It’s a natural tendency, proven time and again in research: When you see a new person, one of the first things you notice is his or her race. In business life, however, we typically pretend we don’tnotice—a behavior that’s called “color blindness”—because we want to reduce our odds of exhibiting prejudice or engaging in discrimination, or of seeming to do either.
The research conducted by Norton, Michael I., and Evan P. Apfelbaum with Sam Sommers, of Tufts University, shows that there are drawbacks to the color-blind approach.
The article looks at research on people's attitudes and behaviors with respect to noticing and referring to a person's race. It explains the 2013 study, in which participants played a "Guess Who?" style game of asking yes-or-no questions about a group of faces pictured, half white and half African-American. The authors suggest that people's discomfort and avoidance of referring to race imposes costs in terms of information gathering and effective workplace diversity programs.
So what do the smart companies do
"Rather than avoiding race, smart companies deal with it head-on—and they recognize that “embracing diversity” means recognizing all races, including the majority one, to avoid showing preference or creating a backlash. For example, Time Warner’s annual diversity summit isn’t just for people of color (or women)—it’s populated by white males, too. Talking about race can feel awkward, but over time more companies will discover that doing so is usually better than pretending it doesn’t exist."
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