- Control the narrative, including false accusations and sabotage, through closed-door conversations and subjective performance reviews to keep power over workers.
- Work without tight scrutiny from above.
- Speak up without fear of retaliation or minimization.
- See people of their gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and other privileged groups at the top and in the history of their organizations, normalizing their looking the part of leader.
- Be in the company of people of their same gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and other privileged groups most of the time and feel part of the in-crowd — even promoting them — rather than outnumbered, out-of-place, unheard, invisible, feared, or seen as a token hire.
- Minimize and ignore those not in the in-crowd, reinforcing their positions in the in-crowd.
- Use positive stereotypes to kiss up and negative stereotypes to kick down.
- Stand by white, patriarchal norms even if they are not white or men.
- Count on their identity to give their views more weight and respect and less questioning during meetings.
- Have a medical complication, a leave of absence, or a difficult span of time resulting in a lower performance without higher-ups attributing problems to their identity.
- Use doctors they pay to dismiss valid claims of workplace harm in others.
- Pay themselves high wages while paying their employees poverty wages, using them as welfare, to reinforce their power.
- Do well without being called a credit to some aspect of their identity.
- Never be asked to speak for all members of their identity groups.
- Wonder if their mistreatment is due to a performance issue or their skin color, accent, class, gender identity, ability, age, sexual orientation, religion, size, politics, or other difference.
- Hide part of who they are (socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious beliefs, political beliefs, age, education, etc.) in fear of no longer belonging to the privileged group.
- See speaking up to HR or higher-ups as a dead-end route when they see that route not going well for their co-workers.
- Have to choose between their health and a paycheck when abuse of power makes them stressed and fearful.
- Know that even anti-discrimination law hasn’t disrupted the status quo and that if they go up against their employer, they’ll be one person against an army and a system. “The courts have moved in the direction of treating employment discrimination as a set of individual cases of intentional misbehavior, while the social science literature on discrimination increasingly points to a widespread, systemic character of bias in the organization of workplaces” (Berrey et al., 2017). If they do use the legal system to go up against discrimination, they also know their identity will also work against them with lawyers and in court, subjecting them to re-trauma, and that eventually the only justice they can seek is monetary, even if it only covers their legal bills. Employers rarely reinstate their jobs, hold bullies accountable, or change their work cultures, and case outcomes stay hidden for the employer but can jeopardize employees’ future job prospects.
- Internalize the oppression as trauma and insecurity and then feel blame and shame for struggling, less than, fearful, uncomfortable, and alienated.
|Asian American men||$59,766|
|Asian American women||$48,419|
|African American men||$41,167|
|African American women||$35,212|
- Accept the days of lack of opportunity to get into positions of power, reinforced by systems, are still alive and well. These systems and the behaviors that support them influence whether people get jobs, advance, support themselves financially, achieve career goals, and contribute to generational wealth.
- Recognize the power and control narrative and the value we as a culture place on it.
- Acknowledge meritocracy and equality as myths and a system of privilege and oppression as our reality. This system rooted in ignorance and arrogance grants those in the norm permission to belong, dominate, hurt, neglect, and ignore others and the rest of us to assimilate, obey, and suffer.
- Be willing to see our invisible, normalized, unearned privilege around race, gender, age, ethnici, ability, nationality, religious, or sexual orientation advantage.
- Stop simply disapproving of it. Become outraged about it enough to proactively give up power through anti-ism work so we can share power.
- Have conversations about privilege and invisible systems, even if they’re messy and uncomfortable.
- Take action by supporting legislation that will help prevent abuse at work, re-design the system, and distribute power rather than keep it in the hands of those who currently write the rules.
Research shows workplaces are the fifth leading cause of death and account for billions in additional healthcare costs. At least half of the deaths and one third of the excess costs can be prevented by tending to well-being.
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