How the New Civil Rights Movement Will Affect the Workplace - ToughNickel - Money
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How the New Civil Rights Movement Will Affect the Workplace

FlourishAnyway is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist with applied experience in corporate human resources and consulting.

Americans have increasingly demanded change in the criminal justice system,  particularly relating to mistreatment of minorities at the hands of police. Demands for greater social justice in the workplace will be next.

Americans have increasingly demanded change in the criminal justice system, particularly relating to mistreatment of minorities at the hands of police. Demands for greater social justice in the workplace will be next.

Is Your Workplace Ready for This New Wave of Social Activism?

We are knee-deep in the new civil rights era, a time when people question firmly entrenched authorities more than ever. Activists are everywhere, and they judge from the gut, calling attention to perceived injustice and arguing to upend not only technically lawful decisions but also the entire systems that support them. They're not afraid to show up, speak their truth, and enlist the assistance of like-minded others in their crusade for change.

Several watershed moments have given rise to this renewed energy around social justice:

November 2014 marked a turning point in America's collective racial consciousness, a result of the unprosecuted shooting of an 18-year-old black American, Michael Brown, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Protests and civil unrest quickly followed, with Black Lives Matter demonstrations spreading beyond the St. Louis suburb to far-flung cities across America.

Demonstrators of all races sat down in the streets and impeded traffic. They shouted, "Hands up. Don't shoot!,” “I can't breathe!” and “Black lives matter!" They denounced silence as an act of complicity, and many dared to stay home on the biggest shopping day of the year.1 Students walked out of class, risking suspension.2 Athletes faced rebuke when they struck the hands-up pose for a nationally televised audience.3 Later, they took a knee in response to the national anthem and faced presidential reprimand.

Racial tensions reached a tipping point in late May 2020 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Caught on video was an arrest gone horribly wrong. George Floyd, a black man, died as a result of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck for more than eight minutes. As a result, civil unrest spread to over 2,000 American cities and beyond. Protesters decried police misconduct and brutality, systemic racism, and qualified immunity. With over a half-billion dollars in property damages in the Minneapolis-St. Paul alone, the social uprising became the most expensive in history.

Concerns regarding women's rights, including harassment and assault, have galvanized both men and women in the new civil rights era.

Concerns regarding women's rights, including harassment and assault, have galvanized both men and women in the new civil rights era.

Women’s issues, too, have demanded a larger spotlight, particularly concerns regarding sexual assault and harassment. The day following President Trump’s 2017 inauguration, the Women’s March became the largest single-day protest in the history of the United States.

Later that year, there was a demonstration of a different kind—on social media. The #MeToo movement named and shamed alleged perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault. Publicity was already high regarding the downfall of Hollywood film producer (and currently-convicted sexual predator) Harvey Weinstein. Actress Alyssa Milano revealed on Twitter that she had experienced unwanted sexual advances as a 19-year-old while at a concert. Milano encouraged survivors of sexual harassment and assault everywhere to voluntarily self-identify by posting a hashtag (#MeToo), thereby demonstrating the widespread nature of the problem. The hashtag went viral, and tens of thousands of people shared their stories.

Broader Implications of This New Era

With each of these watershed events, Americans decided that they were fed up and would tolerate no more. Regardless of how you personally felt about the demonstrations, odds are that this new civil rights era won’t limit itself to concerns over police brutality or sexually predatory behavior. Just as the 1960's civil movement was larger than the isolated act of a woman refusing to give up her seat on a bus, this new civil rights era will eclipse isolated issues and spheres of life. Watch for its important impacts in the workplace.

The young woman's sign references a famous quote by humanitarian and political activist Elie Wiesel: "We must take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

The young woman's sign references a famous quote by humanitarian and political activist Elie Wiesel: "We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

Social Justice and the Workplace in the New Civil Rights Era: What to Expect

Citizens have quickly become emboldened by public support for civil rights. They will increasingly begin to call for improvements to the economic and social justice aspects of their workplaces. After all:

  • We spend one-third of our lives at work.
  • Employment opportunities tangibly separate the haves from the have-nots.
  • Work fulfills a key social identity function. It gives valuable meaning to who we are as people.

Here are five game-changing ways that the new civil rights movement will impact tomorrow's workplace. Will your employer be ready? Will you?

Especially in the new civil rights era, you don't have be a minority to care about the minorities' rights or a woman to care about women's rights.

Especially in the new civil rights era, you don't have be a minority to care about the minorities' rights or a woman to care about women's rights.

1. Employees Will Demand More Transparent Decisions

Think about all the key decisions that you entrust to strangers when you decide to go to work for a company. You have faith that decisions involving hiring, promotion, pay, and firing will be nondiscriminatory and legally compliant.

Such employment choices are critical because they affect the entire trajectory of your career. They translate into money in your pocket, status, and whether you have a job in the first place. For example:

  • Being identified as "promotable," being selected for a management training program, or being contacted for an interview are all someone else's decision.
  • In the event of a layoff, the assessment method that separates those who still have a job from those who do not involves someone else's decision.
  • Choices regarding pay, discipline, time off, training opportunities, and issues surrounding your working conditions are all up to the decision-makers.
  • And when you complain? Whether your viewpoint will be considered, who hears your complaint, and what they do about it (if anything) are all someone else's decision.

In this new era of civil rights, American employees will look more closely at both the consistency and appropriateness of such decisions. They'll expect explanations to be reasonable when they don't get their desired results. (Of course, they may or may not take the time to listen to those explanations).

Protesters for change seek accountability, and so do employees. It's not too much to ask.

Protesters for change seek accountability, and so do employees. It's not too much to ask.

Corporate Spinmeisters, Beware

For too long, company decision-makers have relied upon "spin" rather than plain-speak to present their decisions, and employees have allowed them to get away with it. Company decision-makers have also stonewalled employees with hollow explanations, such as:

  • "It's a confidential matter" or
  • The decision was "consistent with the business needs of the company."

Sound familiar?

In the new civil rights era, however, Human Resources (HR) and managers will find that such empty answers won't be enough to satisfy employees hungry to understand precisely why and how. It also won't be enough to be merely "technically" correct according to law and company policy. If the decision doesn't have a straightforward explanation, then employees will be more prone to calling the company out on it. Call it the "sniff test."

If a company requires a secret formula for a layoff, then that process is not transparent. If no one truly understands how employees are identified as "promotable," then something truly stinks, and it failed the sniff test.

If middle and upper management consists of a vast wall of white masculinity, I'm sorry, but that's even more damning. This is not always overtly spelled out. People often select others who are like themselves, and they may possess implicit biases that they are unaware of. Unfortunately, that doesn't make it less harmful to those on the losing end of their decisions.

People may call for change to the entire system when they feel that they have been mistreated over an extended period of time

People may call for change to the entire system when they feel that they have been mistreated over an extended period of time

2. Employees Will Question the Entire Decision-Making System

Companies should anticipate that their entire processes for investigating employee complaints may come under scrutiny. As a result, outsourcing this key compliance function will become an increasingly popular option.

When an employee complains to HR about a work issue, he or she expects to receive an impartial hearing and fair resolution. Although the HR investigator works for the company, he or she is supposed to be an unbiased trier of fact, a symbolic judge and jury (and often the detective, too). However, there is an inherent conflict of interest in HR's multiple roles. This will become more of an issue in the new civil rights era.

Employees will be more apt to voice their distrust in both the decision-making authorities and the entire process. They will want corroboration that HR investigators are professionally trained. In addition, HR will need to be highly reflective of a variety of demographics, while being both neutrally and ethically uncompromising, despite being company employees themselves.

Employees will want more participation in major decision-making processes that impact them. They'll want evidence (in the form of metrics) that the system actually works. Companies will have to balance these demands with cost and efficiency (they do have a business to run).

Ultimately, it will be more cost-effective to outsource the HR investigations role, and this will inspire greater employee confidence in the entire decision-making system.

3. Employees Will Increasingly Focus on Interpersonal Treatment

Just as our nation has long side-stepped a real conversation about race and gender, so too have American companies. They are seen as too delicate and too potentially explosive, particularly race. However, employers will need to be able to articulate where they stand on the issues of race, gender, and inclusiveness. They must also be prepared to back up their words with consistent action.

Continuing to pretend that race is a non-issue won't work anymore. Race is an important lens through which we each experience the world. All of us have blind spots in our perceptions of others, and simply pretending that these gray areas don't exist won't make it so. Similarly, we can't allow the "boys will be boys" cultures that still pervade many American companies to go unchecked as if they produce no harm. That is yesterday's fallacy, and new day has risen.

Because personnel and workplace issues are especially complex, employees use all of the available evidence to detect whether they have been fairly treated. Much of that comes in the way of interpersonal treatment.

When people feel unfairly targeted by authorities, they withdraw their cooperation. Unfortunately, events leading up to the new civil rights era have highlighted this issue. In the future, employees will increasingly prioritize the extent to which decision-making authorities treat them with respect and without bias. They'll look for evidence that they are valued members of the organization and that their perspective is being considered. They will expect the company to have their best interests at heart rather than coming off as punitive.

These perceptions are the employee's truth, and they matter (or at least, they should). Research shows that perceptions of fairness can influence how an employee will engage with the organization. This can extend to areas such as

  • commitment
  • absenteeism
  • turnover
  • sabotage
  • job performance
  • performance of voluntary work behaviors that help the company.
How companies treat their employees matters not only to the employee themselves, but to third parties like coworkers and customers.

How companies treat their employees matters not only to the employee themselves, but to third parties like coworkers and customers.

4. Employees Will Use Sensationalism to Gain Attention

If you work in a quiet office where everyone gets along, consider yourself lucky. Many of us are not as fortunate. There are an innumerable amount of situations involving employees where reactions can potentially spiral out of control. When people feel powerless and disenfranchised, they often resort to dramatic options to air their complaints by:

  • confronting the CEO at a shareholder's meeting
  • sending a mass company email
  • posting on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter
  • circulating petitions.

In an instant, gossip spreads, facts become fuzzier, sides are taken, and conflict snowballs out of control. A public relations crisis occurs as a result of an incident that could have been handled more effectively in-house had either the company or the employee reached out to one another instead of completely shutting down.

In the new civil rights era, company leaders will need to anticipate and prevent such problems through improved communications, and by giving a special effort to identifying employee thought leaders and any potential major issues that could quickly bubble up. They'll also need to be rapid responders with the ability to de-escalate employee issues that have already erupted.

Die-ins are demonstrations that quickly gain attention once they begin to tie up traffic and prevent others from getting to work.

Die-ins are demonstrations that quickly gain attention once they begin to tie up traffic and prevent others from getting to work.

5. Employees Will Mobilize More Outside of the System

There is power in numbers. The post-Ferguson protests clearly indicate that people have found effective ways to mobilize outside of a system that they feel is stacked against them.

In the context of employment, individuals certainly have the option to find other opportunities. However, more employees will perceive that it's their duty to speak out and seek change in their own circles of influence in this new social and political climate. Thus, they will begin routinely mobilizing support by:

  • joining forces with other employees in their workplace who have similar concerns (i.e., class action lawsuits);
  • complaining to government agencies in record numbers;
  • enlisting support from powerful influencers (i.e, elected officials, celebrities, and civil rights organizations); and
  • airing their grievances through the media, including social media.

An Employee's Options to File a Complaint Outside of the Workplace

If you believe you have been discriminated against, seek advice from an attorney licensed to practice in your state. There are time limits for filing complaints with government agencies.

External Government AgencyPowerful BodiesGoing Public With the Grievance

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or state Human Rights Board

NAACP

Local Media

Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP)—for the many businesses that are federal contractors

Elected Officials (especially Congressional Black Caucus members)

Social Media

U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Urban League

Picketing and Demonstrations

Employees who don't feel respected will look outside of the company for resolution. Oftentimes, this happens with the help of an attorney.

Employees who don't feel respected will look outside of the company for resolution. Oftentimes, this happens with the help of an attorney.

The End Has Yet to Be Written

The new civil rights movement a chapter that is still being written. We do not know how it fully plays out yet. What we do know is that civil rights in America will never be the same.

We've seen a renewed energy (albeit an imperfect activism) sweeping the country. Just as Rosa Parks' defiance wasn't restricted to civil rights in transportation, today's activism on behalf of black and brown people and women won't be restricted to the allegations of police brutality and sexual assault. Eventually, it will expand full scale into the workplace as people seek economic and social justice for themselves in those areas of their lives as well. Will your employer be ready? Will you?

Quotes Worth Reflecting Upon

"If you want to make enemies, try to change something."

—Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."

—Desmond Tutu, South African social rights activist

"Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism."

—Oprah Winfrey, American talk show host

"It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home."

—Carl T. Rowan, American newspaper reporter

"Sadly, whites are rarely open to what black and brown folks have to say regarding their ongoing experiences with racist mistreatment. And we are especially reluctant to discuss what that mistreatment means for us as whites: namely that we end up with more and better opportunities as the flip-side of discrimination."

—Tim Wise, American anti-racism activist and writer

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."

—Victor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and Holocaust survivor

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do."

—Amelia Earhart, American aviator

Sources

  1. CBS News. "Ferguson decision ignites protests in many cities." Last modified November 25, 2014. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ferguson-decision-ignites-protests-in-many-cities/.
  2. Liao, Shannon. "NYC High School Students Risk Suspension and Arrests to Protest Ferguson." The Epoch Times. Last modified December 1, 2014. http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1115649-new-york-city-high-school-students-walk-out-of-classes-in-protest-of-ferguson-decision/.
  3. Walters, John. "What Hands Up, Don't Shoot Really Says." Newsweek. Last modified December 2, 2014.http://www.newsweek.com/what-hands-dont-shoot-really-says-288685.
  4. Tyler, Tom R., and Steven L. Blader. Cooperation in Groups: Procedural Justice, Social Identity, and Behavioral Engagement. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press, 2000.
  5. CBS News. "Study: Most Americans unhappy at work." Last modified June 25, 2013. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-most-americans-unhappy-at-work/

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Why are HR employee investigations important?

Answer: When companies are alerted to possible misconduct in the workplace, they have the duty to investigate the dispute. Even if the misconduct is reported as an informal complaint, the Company is officially put on notice. Its response can be a factor in whether an employee files and wins a lawsuit. Example investigation issues include alleged acts of discrimination and harassment, theft, fraud, or other violations of policy and/or the law.

© 2014 FlourishAnyway

Comments

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 15, 2020:

Peggy - It's very sad that race as well as gender issues have become as divisive as they have. Current leadership have only added fuel to the fire.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 14, 2020:

Sadly, Ferguson-type incidents still happen today. Recently, a young black man who was out for a jog was followed by two white men who claimed that they thought he might have been responsible for some local burglaries. They were going to make a citizen's arrest and claimed that the black man began attacking him and that one of the white men shot him, killing him in self-defense. Fortunately, it was caught on tape. The two white men are now under arrest. It was carried on the news in our area for quite some time. It will probably be in the court system for some time to come.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 08, 2018:

Tim - I saw Ferguson as a watershed moment that sparked a new era of civil rights for people of color. Sadly, I also perceive the politics of Trump was in large part a backlash against these demonstrations, although nobody talks about that. Business and those who perceived they had been slighted by civil rights laws were united under one banner, as they feel particularly threatened by changing demographics. It's threatening to have one's sense of entitlement and power diminished. I hope ultimately there is a fair balance that recognizes the dignity of all, but it will take struggle, uncommon heroes, perseverance, and frequent appeal to the better nature in all of us.

Thank you, friend, for commenting.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on October 08, 2018:

Great article, Flourish.

As I read this article, ferguson is only one in a long list of incidents resulting in capital and labor being at odds.

Otherwise, we never would have passed: Civil Rights legislation, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans' with Disability Act.

The push and pull of these forces have been going on since the founding of our democracy. Race, gender, and other areas of conflict are just ways of disguising the overall conflict.

At this point, capital is in the driver's seat with the weakening of unions and a push for deregulation. Also, many states are "work first" states.

You made a good point about unintentional biases: we do tend to put people like us around us. That's human.

We are essentially, as a species, uncomfortable with the unknown.

I recall many people quietly cheering when Colin Powell became head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. we were turning a curb. But the military is one example where the top brass is primarily White and male.

We don't talk to each other much, Flourish. That's the key. Building a bond where the color of a person's skin is less important than the integrity of the person's heart is missing today.

Informative, educational, well written,

Your hallmarks, my friend.

Wonderful and thoughtful work.

Much respect and admiration,

Tim

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 05, 2018:

Mandirigma - Thanks for your comment.

Mandirigma from Philippines on October 05, 2018:

It doesn't matter what ethnicity we have at the end of the day we are all humans longing for human compassion. Nice work :). Also Come see my work i write poems :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 12, 2017:

Gina - Thank you! Trump has really changed the dynamic.

Regina Harrison-Barton from South Carolina on September 12, 2017:

Sound article. Well written.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 11, 2016:

poetryman6969 - I won't tell anyone!

poetryman6969 on January 10, 2016:

If employers ever check out my Facebook I will never be hired again! I just did a post about National Pantless Day for instance. Photos of people in their panties riding the subway would look questionable to HR!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 15, 2015:

Suzanne - this is the issue that will not go away for a good reason. I think it's only the start.

justmesuzanne from Texas on June 14, 2015:

Timely and thorough treatment of a complex problem. Voted up, useful and interesting! :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 19, 2015:

Audrey - Thanks for reading and for commenting. I hope your weekend has been a good one!

Audrey Howitt from California on April 19, 2015:

Amen! This needs to happen!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 01, 2015:

Pawpawwrites - I agree. There's so much bitterness and noise and no one is listening to the other.

Jim from Kansas on January 31, 2015:

It is a very complicated problem. In order to come up with a solution, we must have serious conversations.

Sadly, we haven't even reached a point where we can have a serious conversation. In order to converse, we must first listen to the other person, and respond, rather than react. Sadly, there is very little listening and responding going on.....only talking, and reacting.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 10, 2015:

Jaye - I agree with you. HR can reveal sides of humanity that can be sad, stressful, and disturbing. People don't check their baggage at the door; in fact, some of them unpack conflicts and issues and replicate their home lives, as dysfunctional as they might be. Have a happy and successful 2015 writing.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 10, 2015:

Mel - I was enlightened regarding different treatment on a business trip which I took with a group of associates, some of whom were African American females. We were all dressed professionally. Out of the five of us, two of us were detained for "random" thorough checks of our carry-on baggage by the airlines before boarding. Guess which ones? True story. Thanks for stopping by.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on January 10, 2015:

I'm glad that I'm retired from a career in HR management. I enjoyed working in the HR field and believe I made a difference. However, writing--even with tight deadlines--is much less stressful.

Mel Carriere from San Diego California on January 10, 2015:

I am more of a sideline cheerleader, mostly because my own busy work and family schedule leaves me little time to attend protests, but I hope my small voice here and in other writing venues makes a difference. Some of us are rock throwers, some of us are word throwers. Anyhow, even though I know that every African American that has ever been arrested is not a victim of racial injustice, the overall trend is that black people get arrested at a much higher rate for felonies and misdemeanors that white people such as myself get away with. I was no saint as a young man. My friends and I were frequently out causing mischief in the wee hours, and although we were sometimes pulled over and asked what we were up too, we were never arbitrarily harassed or detained. I can't imagine what it is like to be a young African American male, to be quite honest, but it must be frustrating. Great hub!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 06, 2015:

tirelesstraveler - Yikes. I see enormous "learning opportunities" in the future for that start-up your friend works for -- especially if they are based in California or do business there. The people side of the business can't be an afterthought.

Judy Specht from California on January 06, 2015:

Had to come back. My friend was telling me about the start-up she works for. It is owned by people about 30. They know a ton about the tech industry they own, but nothing about HR. They out-source HR and don't really have a business plan. They don't have managers who have ever managed people. They spend money like its water. Curious situation. They make a lot of money.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 06, 2015:

Nell - Although in concept that would seem fair, there's certainly a lot of history that went into requiring demographic self-identification for affirmative action and equal opportunity in employment reasons. This is one thing that makes HR such a fascinating field.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 05, 2015:

Pro Shell - Ferguson is a different sociopolitical event in that it's not one isolated event but part of a string of high-profile cases and resultant public backlashes. No matter one feels personally about the particular cases, Post-Ferguson America is now one where race is more of a hot-button issue. Work is so critical to survival and I cannot imagine spillover effects long-term. Thanks for stopping by.

Nell Rose from England on January 05, 2015:

Living in England we watched what happened in Ferguson with a mixture of disbelief and disgust. So many things need to change. The one thing I have always said where it comes to work ethics is, why is it when we go for a job we are asked to fill in a form saying, name, gender, and race? if we want equality, then we should only show our CVs qualifications on paper, without saying who or what we are. That way the job will be given to the person most qualified, and only to be seen when that person starts work, great hub, and disturbing too, nell

Pro Shell from Vereinigten Staaten on January 05, 2015:

Interesting perspective, I rarely consider the impact of current events in HR especially on the employment termination and retention decisions

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 04, 2015:

Bill - Thanks for stopping by to read and say hello. Have a wonderful new year filled with success and happiness.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on January 03, 2015:

Hi Flourish. A Happy New Year to you. What an interesting and thought provoking hub. The future looks scary! To me the bottom line is everyone needs to be treated fairly and with respect. The workplace is certainly not immune to racial issues and inequality. I still see this where I work and if I can see it then something is definitely wrong with the system. Great job with this hub and a healthy and happy 2015 to you and yours.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 01, 2015:

Faith Reaper - That's one thing that concerns me, too. In a movement, without a dedication to nonviolence the message can lose credibility. Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a wonderful new year!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on January 01, 2015:

Interesting hub and great insight to pointing out the future shockwaves from the Ferguson events. I am all for peaceful demonstrations, but when the protests turn violent, it really defeats the purpose of the demonstrations and causes more harm than good.

Happy New Year, dear Flourish! May you continue to flourish in the new year and always.

Peace and blessings

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 30, 2014:

Writer Fox - Thank you for your insights. I trust that through the confusion and hype people will see the issues more clearly. I appreciate the up vote and pin. Have a wonderful new year.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 30, 2014:

Genna - Thank you for your thoughtful response. People often don't do what they need to until forced by crises. And it's super awesome that you're an HR consultant. Have a prosperous and joyful new year.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 30, 2014:

Jo, What a strong, rousing comment! I so appreciate your thoughtful response. I wish you a peaceful and prosperous 2015.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on December 29, 2014:

As someone who works in HR on a consulting basis, I was especially interested in this very well-written and revelatory article. It’s really quite surprising when organizations don’t listen when you try to counsel them on what HR really is and should mean. At least, not until it’s too late, and a situation develops where an employee seeks out a private attorney and a lawsuit becomes imminent. Inevitably, we get a phone call and hear, “Yeah, I know, we should have listened to you. We need to make some changes.” Have to or want to? There’s a huge difference. To quote a cliché: You have to walk the talk. Racism and other various forms of prejudice still exist -- whether certain corporations want to admit it or not. It is their very culture that is the heart of the problem. Excellent article.

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on December 29, 2014:

I haven't read many details about this episode because I don't live in America now. But, I do trust the American people to perceive injustice and to rise up against it, even when their leaders don't. This is what made America great and continues to do so.

Great article and thanks for the information.

Voted up and pinned!

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on December 29, 2014:

A very important hub, comprehensive and revealing. I must say, although we also have institutional racism in our public and private institutions, the recent killings in the U.S. and particularly the lack of convictions have left me cold. Unless the good people get off the fence to make their voices heard, America will find itself sleepwalking into a racial war that no one wants. Your country have come too far since those ugly dark days before an unknown seamstress in Montgomery Alabama refused to give up her seat on the bus. I hope that the legacy of the unrest in Ferguson, is that the American people can work together for a better fairer system. As always, thought provoking and very astute.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 27, 2014:

PegCole17 - Interestingly, by 2043, it is projected that Caucasians will comprise a minority in the US population. How this will impact civil rights laws and people's experiences will be compelling.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 27, 2014:

CatherineGiordano - I checked out some of your blogs last night. Loved the visual and blackout poetry -- very creative. I'll read more.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 27, 2014:

Dipankar - Thank you for your comment and kudos. May your new year be filled with peace and prosperity.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 27, 2014:

Judy - Thank you for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 27, 2014:

Roberta - Selection is an important issue for those roles, as you point out. Thanks for stopping by.

RTalloni on December 27, 2014:

Loads of food for thought here. Part of the issue that needs to be considered is what happens when women who are antagonistic towards men step into HR positions, as well as the racial equivalent, a black person who is antagonistic toward whites in an HR positions. (I currently have specific incidences from 2 different states in mind as I write this.) It isn't just that there are some white men who are antagonistic toward women or black. The same issues are a problem across the board. It isn't about gender or race, it's about the human heart's condition.

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/you-can-pray...

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on December 27, 2014:

I wrote a lot about the Trayvon Martin case in my newsprintpoetry2012 blog. Just search on Trayvon Martin. I write about political and social issues on my reviews of Bill Maher's shows. BillMaherRules(for real) and on the PremiumCableReviews when I review the Bill Maher show. These issues are often discussed on Bill Maher's shows. I report on the discussion and comment.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on December 27, 2014:

"Continuing to pretend that race is a non-issue won't work. Race is an important lens through which we each experience the world."

It's sad to see that racial tensions still exist after these many years of civil rights activism and evolved hiring practices. I started working in the sixties when tensions were extremely high and discrimination was rampant.

The Ferguson protests are true examples of tensions that continue on both sides including the slogans of the protestors, "Black Lives Matter". From my standpoint "All Lives Matter". Imagine the consequences if the signs read "White Lives Matter". There exists inequality on all sides and you've pointed out the repercussions that are inevitable in the workplace going forward.

Dip Mtra from World Citizen on December 26, 2014:

MLK was relevant then as he is now. A couple of centuries hasn't changed anything really. Employment opportunities and employee benefits need to encompass all irrespective of color or religious beliefs. Thanks for a fine article. Voted up.

Judy Specht from California on December 26, 2014:

Beautifully written Hub; absolutely terrifying in so many ways.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 26, 2014:

Catherine - You're the first one who said they've supported it from the sidelines somehow. I'm going to go check your profile to see if I can find your blog.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 26, 2014:

ologsinquito - Investigators oftentimes are very dutiful, however it isn't unusual that executives attempt to co-opt the process and results, especially in high-stakes situations. Thanks for reading!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 26, 2014:

Iris - Thank you so much for your kind comments and for sharing. Hope your holiday was joyous.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 26, 2014:

MsDora - It's unfortunately so much easier to hope the problem will just go away or just deny that it exists in the first place. Eventually that becomes impossible. Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope your Christmas was merry and bright.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 26, 2014:

Linda - I appreciate your stopping by. Hope your Christmas was a joyful one.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 26, 2014:

FitnezzJim - Sometimes emotions can take over and people stop listening. Thanks for reading.

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on December 26, 2014:

I've had my own small business for 20 years. In fact, I don't think I have ever worked in a corporation that was large enough to have an hr department. I like how you have tied the Ferguson issue to the corporate world. Everything is connected. I haven't participated in a rally, but I have blogged about it. I hope that counts. Voted up.

ologsinquito from USA on December 26, 2014:

It will be very interesting to see what happens in our country. I've always wondered about the inherent conflict of interest in internal HR investigations. Too bad there's not another way.

Cristen Iris from Boise, Idaho on December 26, 2014:

This is so well written. It is excellent. I read every word. Voted up, interesting, useful, etc. and I'm sharing! You elevated the conversation for sure.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 26, 2014:

Sha - Like workplace issues involving race, those that concerning age-based concerns are certainly gaining traction as the population ages. The key question is whether we'll continue to tolerate such convenient treatment. Thanks for reading. Hope your holiday was a good one!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 26, 2014:

I like the Carl T. Rowan quote. His observation is likely to be more true now if people get scared and try to avoid these kinds of confrontation in the workplace. I appreciate the depth of this article; these are important issues that deserve attention.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 26, 2014:

This is an interesting and thought provoking hub about an important topic, Flourish. I can see that you have thought very carefully about the consequences of the sad incident in Ferguson. Thank you for sharing your conclusions.

FitnezzJim from Fredericksburg, Virginia on December 26, 2014:

When I read your lines “They judge from the gut. They argue to upend technically lawful decisions and the entire systems that support them. They're not afraid to speak up, show up, and enlist like-minded others in their crusade for change.” I thought ‘mob rule’.

It is an unwritten principle of mob rule that he who shouts the loudest makes the rules.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on December 26, 2014:

Flourish, transparency and equality in the workplace is something that should be put into practice as a courtesy to the human beings that make up the team. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. And it goes beyond race. I've seen most all the key members of the company I used to work for leave. Some were 'laid off' and others were 'pushed to quit or retire' through sudden unfair treatment or micro-managing. Oddly enough, most - if not all - those key members are over the age of 50. Kinda suspicious, don't you think?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 26, 2014:

Frank - Yes indeed. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you had a great holiday.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on December 26, 2014:

Justice in the workplace.. justice in society it depends on whose view.. my opinion only.. but it's going to be rough waters ahead my friend Flourish anyway... great question provoking hub .. :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 25, 2014:

Efficient Admin - Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 25, 2014:

MartieCoetser - Very interesting. The CCMA seems to be a cross between our NLRB and EEOC. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to discriminate against employees and applicants on the basis of race and color, however many complain that racism has become more subtle, gone "underground."

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 25, 2014:

Heidi - Well said. I appreciate your comment and kudos. Have a Merry Christmas.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 25, 2014:

Stevarino - Thanks for reading! Have a Merry Christmas!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on December 25, 2014:

The emphasis on consistency and appropriateness is going to be oh so important in the years ahead. In my opinion, the rise of social media will make this even more necessary. Recruiting informed and enlightened HR and legal counsel should be a top priority for administrators these days. Knowing what action is appropriate and legal when situations arise can certainly help keep things from escalating out of control. Thanks for being brave enough to address the issue. Peace!

Martie Coetser from South Africa on December 25, 2014:

Very interesting information and sharing of your thoughts, flourish!

If I am not mistaking, South Africa is already in a post-Ferguson stage. We have a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) - a dispute resolution body established in terms of the Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995 ... - http://www.ccma.org.za/

I must add, however, that while discrimination against blacks was the order of the day until 1994, it has been reversed - something that will not happen in the USA where whites are not the minority.

Michelle Dee from Charlotte, NC on December 25, 2014:

I have personally witnessed clanish and clicky higher management who only moved into these higher positions through attrition, only to turn around and hire their buddies and none of them are leaders or really qualified and the employees are scratching their heads wondering how are they still here? They have no regard whatsoever about the employees who actually do all the work. Anything that will improve the work environment for all workers across the USA is a good thing. This is a very thought provoking hub, thanks for sharing. Voted up and across.

Steve Dowell from East Central Indiana on December 25, 2014:

Very enlightening, thanks!

About the Frankl quote, I just read "Man's Search for Meaning" not long ago - very inspirational!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 25, 2014:

Shasta - Thank you for reading, voting, and sharing. Happy Holidays!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 25, 2014:

Bill - Thanks for reading. We are in the middle of interesting times indeed. Have a Merry Christmas yourself and thanks for reading.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 25, 2014:

I will always support protests and demonstrations, but only if they are peaceful. A great look at the future here, my friend.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Shasta Matova from USA on December 25, 2014:

Wow. I hadn't thought about the long-term impacts of Ferguson especially regarding the workplace, but I do hope that it does help all people finally get the equal pay and fair treatment that they deserve. You have laid out your points beautifully. Votes up across the board and shared.

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