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Workplace discrimination is not only unethical, it’s bad business!

By Lauren | January 19, 2009

It’s Martin Luther King Day, and a great time to take an honest look at your company’s employment practices.  In the forty-five years since Doctor King delivered his legendary “I have a dream speech” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, many of the institutions that enforced “official” racial discrimination have either been dismantled or crumbled of their own accord.  Sadly, though, true racial equality has yet to be achieved in this country, and nowhere is that clearer than in the upper echelons of business.

Page back through the last year’s business magazines, and you’ll see precious few people of color holding the top jobs in the Fortune 500 companies.  That’s unfortunate.  For one thing, it’s just plain wrong to deny people opportunities based on race, so anyone who finds excuses not to consider men and women of color for executive positions needs to take a long, hard look at his or her ethics.  But it also means that businesses are missing an important opportunity.  Americans come in every color and creed, and a successful business is one that understands its customers and knows how to meet their needs.  The more diverse a company’s management is, the more likely it becomes that the company will hear a variety of opinions, get a broader range of ideas, and be better able to capitalize on the marketing opportunities that a multicultural consumer base provides.  If a company’s executives all look and think alike, there are a lot of perils and potential profits that the company is likely to overlook.

Tomorrow, America will inaugurate its first President of African-American heritage, and it’s about time.  This is probably the most important historic event that will occur in my lifetime, and I wish Doctor King had lived to see it.  In electing Barack Obama to the White House, American voters have recognized the tremendous benefits that our country can hope to enjoy with this intelligent, thoughtful, well-educated and articulate man as our leader.  Isn’t it time for American businesses to embrace the same vision?

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Topics: Business Ethics, corporate responsibility, customer relations, ethics, Social Ethics | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Workplace discrimination is not only unethical, it’s bad business!”

  1. Ken Criss Says:
    February 4th, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Wow, you must be a mind reader. You can flip through the pages of business magazines and tell that people were these companies were “wrong to deny people opportunities based on race”. How can you tell that other people of any color were not considered for those positions? I’m for anyone advancing in their career if they are qualified but you can’t throw a blanket over these companies unless you happen to be an employee and know the details of someone not getting adequately promoted.

  2. Lauren Says:
    February 4th, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Hi Ken,

    You’re absolutely right that you can’t presume racism in any particular situation unless the facts support it. But this is why the law provides two methods for proving discrimination. It can be very, very difficult to prove intentional discrimination in many situations, but plaintiffs can look to statistical data to prove that a company’s policies have a discriminatory impact even if that wasn’t their intent. My point is not so much that companies (and you’ll notice I didn’t specify anyone in particular) necessarily discriminate on purpose, but that their policies and practices may tend to exclude candidates of color. It’s a good idea for companies to think about that once in a while.

    Thanks for writing in!


  3. jesa A. Sumayang Says:
    August 6th, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Good day madam..! thank you for the information about workplace descrimination.this helps a lot in my studies especially in Management 3 subject. We were taking up about CSR and unethical business practices in which one of this is the descrimination…God Speed!