5 Tips to Help With Issues of Race in the Workplace

5 Tips to Help With Issues of Race in the Workplace


If you work, chances are your colleagues, supervisors, and clients might be of a different race. When it comes to being employed, it is important that we are able to fulfill the demands of our positions while working well with others to make sure that tasks are being completed. But there are times when race may come into play; especially during the rise polarizing news topics, which have become a part of our daily lives. It is easy to be thrown into a conversation about race at work, or be confronted with issues pertaining to skin color per the actions of others while in the office.

Race is something that comes up many times in the workplace, and yet, there are few who handle the issue correctly and effectively.

While navigating these often murky and unknown waters regarding race in the workplace, there are several things you must keep in mind.  Preserving your professionalism should be one of your highest priorities, even during times of tenseness.

As a former HR manager, I’ve dealt with my fair share of race incidents at the office. Many of them could’ve been avoided with a little guidance. Here are 5 tips that can help you deal with the issues of race in the workplace.

Think First Before Reacting

Race can often be a sensitive topic for many people. And at work, it is usually exaggerated and more poignant due to many factors. Before reacting when confronted with race issues, think. The actions that you may exemplify could have negative effects on your job and standing. Before you react, think about the situation from all sides.

Just Say No

We all have been guilty for discussing news items while at work, and while there is nothing wrong with that, it could lead to a slippery slope that may be hard for you to rebound from. Just say no when it comes to talking about polarizing items in the office, including those that deal with race. Pass up the fodder at the water cooler, especially if you feel the conversation is heading towards negativity.

Don’t Take the Matter In Your Own Hands

If there is an issue of race while at work, especially one that deals with racism, don’t take the matter in your own hands. Immediately consult your supervisor, manager, or HR department. When dealing with discrimination, it must be reported so that it can be properly recorded and dealt with. Do not try to fix the matter on your own, and document everything so you have the proper information to give to your superiors.

Don’t Be the Problem

Joking about race in any context at work is not professional, nor cool. When these lines become blurred, others can take advantage, which can have huge ramifications for you that could be negative. You could be called to task for your actions, no matter how harmless they may be. Don’t be the problem by joking about such topics while on the clock.

Lead By Example

Personally, when I encountered situations when race was being discussed at work, I made it clear that I didn’t want to be involved in these conversations. By doing so, I clearly made it known that I would not be succumbing to discussions of race, and this stopped others from talking about it when I was around. And soon, others took note and stopped discussing it too. With our ever-changing America, most workplaces are multicultural segments of our population. Because of this, race may come up as a topic or issue, which many people are ill equipped to handle.

Utilizing the tips above can help you deal with race in the workplace. Remember, it is against the law for any employer to discriminate based on race, creed, religion, sex, or disability (and in some instances, age). If you are experiencing discrimination or racism in your office, consult your manager or HR department right away.