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Colorism is a subtle but constant source of workplace racism

Some businesses make their racist employment policies obvious because they don’t have any employees from certain backgrounds. They may mistreat certain groups of workers or only promote people from specific backgrounds.

However, just because a company hires and promotes people from every culture and race does not mean that they treat them all equally. At companies that employ people of various ethnic backgrounds, while racism may be more subtle, it is often still present.

Colorism is one of the many ways that racism can still manifest at seemingly accepting businesses.

Workers with certain features or skin tones face more bias than others

Judging someone on the color of their skin doesn’t just mean hiring or not hiring them because of their ethnicity. It can also mean placing different value on them because of how well they conform to Eurocentric beauty standards. Colorism involves people treating those with lighter skin and certain hairstyles or features better than those with darker skin and features associated with certain racial groups.

When institutional colorism affects a workplace, lighter-skinned workers and those with more generic or European features will receive more opportunities, better shifts and improved overall treatment from management. Colorism can also occur between co-workers even if there is no systemic racism occurring from management.

Companies need to ensure that their employees treat each other with dignity and respect and that protected characteristics like race do not influence someone’s career opportunities. If you believe that your skin tone or other features affect your work or your co-workers’ treatment of you, colorism could be to blame. Recognizing the different forms of racial discrimination that occur in the modern workplace can help you protect yourself from race-based mistreatment.

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