This article is part of a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing. As a company, we are committed to identifying actions we can take in the fight against racism and injustice, and the voice of BBIPOC is paramount to stimulating change. Follow with and read other posts in this series Here.
This post was written by Gabrielle Lawrence (she / she), writer, editor and designer.
Perhaps abuse is a strong word. The poet in me is too aware of this choice. Again, I fight against my conditioning. I know from lived experience, history, media, education, etc. that one facet of white fragility is their sensitivity and aversion to the language of violence – especially when they are responsible for that violence. It reminds me of gaslighting.
However, language is power and gives us space to demand accountability. abuse does relate to the mistreatment of another living being, and we know that violence is not only or always physical. This argument that employers abuse minorities in white spaces is directed against companies with no developing core of diversity, equity and inclusion or companies that practice performative Inclusivity.
This can manifest as:
- Going through the creation and growth of a business without developing a mission or recognizing diversity, equity, or inclusion, let alone structures that support the mission.
- Companies that say they “value” DEI but have no cultures or employees who reflect these values.
- Doing “diversity” in a performative manner in a sketchy manner, only in response to complaints to suppress unrest, not rooted in research or calls to action, not created by or in collaboration with the populations it serves, or a “value” on the surface, however always lagging behind internally, never implemented.
How white rooms lead to burnout and resentment
Having to “fit” into a culture that doesn’t take your experiences into account creates the perfect conditions for burnout and resentment. In response to these arguments, I often hear rebuttals:
- “It’s just a job”
- “It is always like that”
- “Your workplace is not your identity or your political home”
- “Sometimes you just have to show up and be quiet”
- And even: “Just let it go. HR is not your friend. ”
Sometimes it feels like they’re right; Perhaps I should decide to keep my head down and shut up if I experience bias and oppression in my job. I should accept a double consciousness and actively participate in it if I mainly work in white workplaces.
Perhaps I should let my self-image, mental health, growth opportunities, and happiness suffer – for a paycheck – from people who, when they heard of my sudden death or departure, wouldn’t even blink before trying my vacancy to occupy.
The effect of spaces does not start on the first day
Also, consider every part of the process: access to the “right” educational institutions and communities, the job search itself, the steps of the recruitment process, the salary negotiation, the onboarding and socialization process, and the list goes on.
Work is no stroll in the park for anyone, especially during major upheavals and crises like the pandemic, but I find it harder to remain docile when I realize my white colleagues have the luxury of a completely different experience. Especially those without overlapping identities.
Going to work for white coworkers doesn’t mean facing the same obstacles, mental stressors, or disrespect. At least the environmental and market culture are most often aligned with their experiences. This also makes it easier for white colleagues who notice and acknowledge these injustices to be complicit because they are not as badly affected.
Consider how these differences can adversely affect minorities in the workplace:
- To be pressured to create the representation or to be where there is none. (While this will evolve the organization and make the company more relevant, these employees may not be rewarded for their extra work.)
- They need to train their employees or deal with the feelings and projections of others, especially when sensitivity training in the workplace is often inadequate.
- A white colleague may show up without being the target of microaggressions or signs, may feel like they have ownership and belonging to that space, may not feel overworked for the same respect as their colleagues, and a host of others interpersonal inequalities. However, minorities are expected to live with it on a daily basis, which can have long-term and negative effects on a person’s health.
- Advocating or setting boundaries can often result in employees feeling alienated, unsupported, or deliberately attacked when white environments are (covertly or subtly) hostile to underrepresented minorities.
When a job description should be tailored to a person of color truthfully, it would look very different. The duties include things like Experience working with people who are unaware of their privileges or prejudices, must be very familiar with white culture and have a similar personality, must be comfortable sharing insights into your culture when it suits us best or makes us money, have a Willingness to work harder to fight our prejudices and earn our respect, etc.
These can of course look different for each job, depending on the type of work, communication style and structure of the company. Still, the disproportionate demands made by employees whose identity lies at the intersection of BIPOC, LGBTQ and disabled communities are shameful, especially given the impact of the off-work pandemic on these populations.
This shouldn’t be normal or sufficient. After everything we’ve seen over the past four years, we should also take radical measures to create safer jobs. Not just because companies know that sustainable DEI has a positive impact on bottom line, but because we are important.
Gabrielle Lawrence (she / she) is a freelance writer, editor, and designer based in Southern California. They have extensive experience in marketing, software development, publishing, higher education, and more. She is co-editor for The tenth magazine and Harpoon books. Her poetry was nominated for The best of the net and Best new poet. You are an interview correspondent for CLOSE. diary and they had the honor of being the former EIC of. to be Linden Avenue literary magazine. Gabrielle loves music and yoga. Find out more about their work and services below gabrielle-l.com.
visit this page to see more on the series, or check back in a week for our next guest post.
CM group is a family of global marketing technology brands including Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru, and Vuture. By bringing together these leading brands, CM Group offers a variety of world-class solutions that can be used by marketers at every level. CM Group is headquartered in Nashville, TN, USA and has offices in the USA in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh and San Francisco as well as worldwide offices in Australia, London, New Zealand and Uruguay.