40% of your black employees wear masks at work

Misty Gaither, Indeed's vice president of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging, compares the code change to the mask these workers wear: “It's very taxing and exhausting.” (Photo: 123RF)

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Waking-up in the morning. If they were to be completely reliable at work, 39% of black workers surveyed believed the survey would affect their career advancement.

That's according to new data collected by Harris Poll from 2,078 Americans ages 18 and older between December 4 and 6, 2023.

On average, 34% of black respondents say they've been code-switched — also called Code switching In Shakespeare's language – to fit the job. Among white respondents, this rate reached 12%.

According to the paper published on February 6, code switching goes beyond adopting the dominant culture's language to assimilate (65%). For example, a person can change their physical appearance (37%), the tone of their voice (50%) or even their facial expressions (37%) without making waves.

For 31% of black people surveyed, the practice had a positive impact on their lives, while 39% said it didn't matter. Of those who have changed their code, 60% continue to do so regardless of whether they are moving up in their organization.

Misty Gaither, vice president of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging, compares the code change to the mask these workers wear: “It's very taxing and exhausting.”

However, 56% of those who say they wear it believe it does not affect their mental health. The manager responds that this data cannot accurately reflect all the shades of gray surrounding the practice. “Some employees may not even realize they're code-switching,” he points out.

In fact, the team was surprised to find that among workers who try to blend in, 34% said their company's management team includes people of color, Indigenous people, and people of color. In 32% of cases, they recognize that their employer has taken steps to promote equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

Therefore, it seems that these measures are not always enough to allow the employees to stay on the job, it is noted. However, this does not mean that these efforts are wasted by the organizations.

Code switching, required

In fact, 56% of employees who observe declining investments in EDI believe that code switching is essential to their advancement at their company, while this figure reaches 44% among blacks surveyed. Of the total population surveyed, this proportion is 29%.

If you doubt that such a phenomenon is happening at your company, think again: only 26% of white respondents have noticed their colleagues changing their code at work. Of the black people surveyed, half have already noticed it.

“There is code-switching and discrimination in the workplace, but differences in perspective on the scale of the phenomenon only highlight the importance of representation in leadership,” it says. In a note actually written.

For leaders looking to change the status quo, we advise against demanding that your employees stop practicing code-switching. Instead, they should be interested in what motivates them to wear this mask at work and how they can change the organizational culture to create a safer environment.

“If someone feels like they can't show all aspects of who they are, you're missing out on an opportunity for your business,” says Gaither.

The question of whether to telework or not is causing confusion in many companies.

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