Estimated reading time: 4 mins
If you have been considering joining a particular organization for some time, but recently heard rumours that it has a history of racism, what do you do? This has probably left you unsure if it is the right decision to make, and no doubt you want to learn more about the issue before you make your mind up. In this article, we will consider whether or not you should join an organization with a history of racism.
Racism is defined as “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races” (Oxford English Dictionary). It is an incredibly harmful phenomenon that has caused and continues to cause immense suffering in all its forms. Racism is often institutionalized, meaning that it is built into the structures and policies of organizations, institutions, and governments such that it becomes part of their operation. This makes racism hard to identify and even harder to combat.
When thinking about joining an organization with a history of racism, there are several things one must consider. Firstly, what kind of racism does the organization have a history of? There are many different types of racism including racial discrimination, xenophobia, cultural prejudice, and white supremacy. It is important to understand what kind of racism the organization has been accused or found guilty of in order to determine how serious the issue could be. Secondly, how long ago did this history take place? Was it recent or was it something that happened years ago? Depending on when the racist behaviour occurred, one might decide differently on whether or not they want to join the organization. Thirdly, what steps has the organization taken since then to address and rectify racism? Have they implemented any anti-racist policies or initiatives? If so, then it might be worth considering joining despite its past trouble with racism.
At this point in my research I decided to look at some relevant research papers published after 2015 on this topic. One paper by Yousef et al (2018) looked at how people respond when confronted with an organization’s racist past. The researchers found that individuals had a greater sense of moral outrage when confronted with evidence of recent racial injustices than those which had occurred in the distant past. They concluded that people are more likely to be critical towards organizations which have displayed recent acts of racial discrimination than those which have done so in the past.
This study implies that if you are considering joining an organization with a history of racism then you should pay close attention to when those incidents occurred and assess whether they are still relevant today. If they happened too long ago then they may no longer impact your decision-making process as much as if they had happened recently – though this doesn’t necessarily mean you should join without further investigation into how seriously and effectively the organisation dealt with its racist past.
Another study by Day et al (2019) considered how organizations can best address historical racism within their ranks and found that successful strategies included admitting wrongdoing, apologizing for any harm caused by those actions in the past, taking concrete steps towards repairing relationships damaged by historical racist policies/practices (e.g., outreach programmes), and actively working towards creating an anti-racist organizational culture through education programmes etc..
The results from this research suggest that if you are debating joining an organization with a history of racism then you should investigate what measures have been taken since then in order to address this issue – have they apologized (meaningfully) for their actions? What other initiatives have been implemented in order to create a more equitable environment? If there is evidence suggesting these efforts have been made then it might be worthwhile joining despite its past mistakes; however if no action has been taken then this could be seen as a red flag – especially if any recent acts of racism can be identified – indicating that perhaps joining would not be beneficial for you personally given its apparent lackadaisical attitude towards tackling systemic racism within its walls.
Overall there is no simple answer as to whether one should join an organisation with a history of racism – every situation must be weighed up on its own merits based upon certain factors such as when did these incidents occur; what type(s) were they; and what steps has been taken since then in order to redress any wrongdoings committed in the past? Ultimately only you can decide if joining such an organisation is right for you given your own ethical code; but hopefully having read through this article you now feel better informed about making such a difficult decision!