Institutional racism is an ongoing talking point in the news cycle these days. Discussions are typically about subtle or conscious bias, influenced by stereotypes. These are often social queues or behavior patterns that a non-minority may not even be aware of, yet they are detrimental to the individual on the receiving end. No company is immune..

Company messaging and behavior

Facebook is in the public eye for its attempts to control what people publish on their personal pages through the social media platform. While it’s receiving public heat for this, it’s also facing issues internally. A strategic partner manager at the company issued a memo of his concerns with the company last month when he resigned. He’s now made the memo public, essentially identifying a workplace culture where black employees had different experiences than their white and Asian peers.

The former employee’s claims fit unconscious bias in many ways: black employees were referred to as hostile or aggressive more frequently than employees of other races, they received greater scrutiny from security, and some even reported more outright treatment such as management discouraging “black” behavior.

Leading by example

Unconscious bias is difficult to identify, almost by definition. However, there are always steps a company can take to protect workers’ rights and to ensure that they are comfortable on the job and with the workplace culture as a whole. Inclusion is more than a buzzword; it requires action.

The former Facebook employee notes a lack of diversity at the company as a problem. Facebook’s mission is to connect communities, the former employee stresses, while it doesn’t employ workers from many of those communities it aims to connect. Facebook’s public position puts it under a brighter spotlight.

Violations often lead to additional mistreatment

There are many ways that employees may experience discrimination, from subtle comments about behavior to inappropriate statements and derogatory names. Whatever the case, federal and state laws prevent employers from discriminating against their employees based on race, gender, religion and many other characteristics. Often, discrimination leads to other matters, such as retaliation and wrongful termination. Anyone who fears what may happen next should consult with an attorney to review your situation.