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A survey about racism at work

Majority of women from marginalized ethnic groups face racism at work

51% of women  from marginalized racial and ethnic groups have experienced racism at work. For the many leaders around the globe this points to a large disconnect in what leaders say they want to do and the reality that racism is still pervasive in workplaces internationally, a survey by non-profit organisation Catalyst shows.

“What’s worse, the links between the multiple oppressions that women from marginalized racial and ethnic groups experience at work are often ignored and go unaddressed.”

The organisation was founded in 1962 to promote workplaces that work for women. 

Key findings:

  • Half (51%) of women from marginalized racial and ethnic groups experience racism at work.
  • Women with darker skin tones are more likely than women with lighter skin tones to experience racism at work.
  • Trans women (67%) and queer women (63%) are more likely than cisgender heterosexual women (49%) to experience racism at work.
  • When senior leaders display allyship and curiosity, they can decrease the climate of silence and boost the diversity climate in their organizations, which in turn decreases the likelihood that women from marginalized racial and ethnic groups will experience racism at work.
  • Senior leaders need to step up: 49% of survey respondents say their senior leaders do not engage in allyship, and 43% say they do not engage in curiosity.
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 The survey comprises 2,734 women from marginalized racial and ethnic groups in Australia, Canada, South Africa, the UK and the US.

Trying to answer if the survey means that 49% of workplaces are free from racism, the report says that some women from marginalized racial and ethnic groups have deliberately chosen to avoid working in predominantly White organizations where they may encounter racism. 

“Instead, they have chosen to work at identity-affirming organizations that demonstrate inclusion indeed, not just in performative words. These organizations are often composed of other people from marginalized racial and ethnic groups. The challenge with this self-care and survival practice is that because of structural racism, predominantly White organizations are often more financially resourced than organizations with large proportions of people of colour.

Other women may experience racism but not necessarily identify or name it as such. Lastly, the structure of some women’s organizations and jobs may insulate them from interpersonal racism while they still experience the effects of structural racism, the report says.

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