Obvious workplace discrimination often makes the headlines because it’s so jarring. Events take place that you almost can’t believe are real. It sounds astounding to think of a world in which people of certain races are told outright not to apply for jobs, for example, because that so obviously violates the law.
Even though it’s not in the news as much, experts warn that more subtle types of discrimination are more common. While the overt forms have decreased over time, that doesn’t mean discrimination is dead. Unfortunately, it often means that people just know they can’t be obvious.
For example, two researchers for the Harvard Business Review noted that a white manager may have an idea presented by an African American employee, and then the manager may “praise the eloquence” of that employee. This can be discriminatory because it suggests that the manager was surprised by that eloquence and level of education, perhaps only based on the color of the employee’s skin.
Another example they gave was when a male manager was given an idea by a female employee. The manager may then simply ignore her ideas and go with those brought up by male employees. If pressed, the manager may say he just liked those ideas better, but the reality could be that he just felt like the female employee couldn’t come up with a viable idea.
These types of discrimination can be infuriating. They can hold back advancement and make some workers feel inferior to others, even though nothing overt is being done. Workers who are facing constant discrimination must know all of their legal rights.
Source: Harvard Business Review, “Why Subtle Bias Is So Often Worse than Blatant Discrimination,” Eden King and Kristen Jones, accessed July 14, 2017