When Tanya Warrants* got a plant supervisor job in Pittsburgh in the early 1980s, she was the first black female manager in her company. I experienced sexism and racism all the time, says the 59 year-old, who still works there. “Men called me Brown Sugar. The department head once asked if he could do a structural inspection of me. When I told him to get the hell out of my office, he said, “Who do you think you are – white”
Warrants considered resigning but decided instead to reposition herself: “Word got out that I required a certain level of respect and that I backed that up by doing competent work” The bullies soon stopped the taunts. Workplace discrimination continues to be a serious issue. If you feel you’re the victim of racism, follow these expert tips to protect and defend yourself:
- Keep impeccable records – one way to assess if your boss is being a jerk or discriminatory is to document everything. Employees should note, who what, when, where and how -and that will help answer the why. Keep a daily journal listing objective a relevant fact, but not on company letterhead, email, or electronic devices.
- Seek Feedback – review the facts with a trusted source a friend, career coach or mentor. Ask whether you have enough case to take your claim to HR. Read the employee manual to learn company protocol.
- Address the abuser – If, for instance, a boss utters a racial slight. Pull the person aside and calmly say, “your comment is inappropriate. Let’s keep our relationship on a professional level” some bullies will back down once confronted.
- Go to a higher Power – Take you complaint to either your boss’s boss or to HR, but remember Human resource role is to protect the company, so have the facts well documented and make sure it’s know that our tried to resolve the problem before it escalated.
- Know when to exit – It’s time to go “when you have enough money to continue your livelihood: If you’ve properly documented the facts, sue that to negotiate a severance agreement. Look at the company’s culture. Is this an isolated incident or is racism either explicitly or implicitly encouraged it’s the latter analyze how soon you could land another job. If you need to stay for a season, use the time to sharpen your skills.