Racial conflict in the workplace is an unfortunate but common problem that has become the focus of academic concern and media attention. For example, at universities across the nation, students, student organizations, and even faculty are in large numbers complaining of widespread racism, and that officials have often not responded or not responded quickly enough. In some cases this has even lead to the forced resignation of top officials in prominent positions. In the face of these problems, organizations would be hard pressed to ignore the common themes imbedded in these complaints, which include most notably a call for more diversity in the workplace and sensitivity training for staff to reduce racism.
A climate marred by racism and discrimination leads to physical and mental unwellness.
Research resoundingly concludes that a climate marred by racism and discrimination leads to physical and mental unwellness in minorities, and distress in others who feel may feel helpless to intervene. A negative racial environment can also be costly, resulting in poor cohesion surrounding group projects, project delays, absences, high turnover, discrimination lawsuits, and even the removal of those held responsible for the unfavorable situation. Victims of racially hostile environments can be left with diagnosable trauma symptoms that may include anxiety, depression, and extended periods of disability.
Dr. Williams partners with Gareth Holman, Ph.D., at OpenTeam LLC, an organizational consulting firm, to design and implement programs to improve the diversity conversation and racial climate in organizations of various types (non-profit, academic, corporate, etc.)
It has been said that it is hard for a fish to perceive the water it swims in. A negative racial climate may not be readily observable when a division or organization is run by people who do not experience racism or discrimination (for example, White males). For a number of reasons having to do with power, prestige, and authority, simply asking minority employees what things are really like may not generate complete or honest answers. And when minorities speak up about the realities of discrimination, they are often dismissed as complainers. Thus, an outside climate assessment of diversity issues is often the only and best way to get accurate feedback on what the environment is truly like for people of color. Such an assessment might include anonymous surveys, individual interviews, and focus groups to get a full picture of department strengths and weaknesses. As psychologists who are knowledgeable in diversity and organizational issues, we are well-qualified to conduct such assessments and can also give recommendations for specific changes that are needed for improvement.
Our most important value is to provide services that work and are grounded in cutting edge behavioral and organizational science. Contact Dr. Williams if you'd like to discuss working together.