The psychological impact of race discrimination in the workplace

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2022 | Race Discrimination |

In the U.S., racial bias continues to affect working people in nearly every industry. Generally, racial bias affects minority groups and can result in a hostile work environment. If you experience discrimination at work, you have every right to file a claim or report your employer’s behavior.

Unfortunately, racial discrimination does not only affect your ability to work comfortably, but it can wreak havoc on your mental health.

Work-related discrimination occurs on the micro and macro-level

Micro-level racism is personal. When you arrive at work, micro-level racism begins. Some examples of discrimination may include racist jokes, harassment, disrespect or verbal confrontation. Generally, micro-level racism occurs when you notice that colleagues and supervisors treat you differently because of your race.

Macro-level racism, on the other hand, occurs through policies and regulations. For example, if rules at work specifically oppress people of color, you may argue for macro-level racism. Macro-level racism also includes stories in the media and the rules in the justice, healthcare and education systems.

Racial discrimination can create an emotional burden

All levels of racial discrimination affect your mental health. Treatment at work can lower your self-confidence and make you question your identity. You may begin to believe the negative messages others say about you and people who look like you. Discrimination can result in depression, anxiety and PTSD.

When you experience racism at work, even subtle discrimination can cause racial trauma. Racial trauma is similar to PTSD and symptoms may include:

  • Chronic stress
  • Aggression
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Avoidance of threats

Employees who face discrimination tend to avoid new opportunities and take fewer risks.


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