Does recession boost discrimination?

Jul 17 2008 by Derek Torres Print This Article

This recent article in the USA Today told me something that I could have very easily guessed: some people need precious few excuses to let our their inner jerk (at best) or inner purveyor of discrimination (at worst).

In this particular case, we're led to believe that the current soft economy is fuelling workplace bias. What a load of rubbish!

So, if I'm to understand correctly, people of color, those with disabilities, and fat people are disproportionately likely to feel the brunt of white male frustrations? The only possible response to that is the name of one of my favorite albums (which I will not reprint here as this is a decent website).

However, the article Ė which in no way condones such thinking Ė raises some interesting points. For example, it's not just employees that might suffer from the emergence of what we'll call "bad economy biases", but third-parties as well.

The article points out that companies may close ranks and choose to work with only "certain" suppliers whereas they would previously work with a diverse set of service providers. When it comes time to promotion or layoffs during leaner times, it also appears that certain groups may be more apt to get the short end of the stick.

Of course, we won't get carried away here. It's not because the economy is just so-so that companies are abandoning all sense of reason or taking anti-affirmative action. However, to see that this has a direct affect on workplace bias and how people are treated (or treat each other) is certainly indicative of a general sense of malaise that isn't good for employees, their confreres, or the company (managerial white guys included).