Breaking taboos

Nov 05 2008 by Derek Torres Print This Article

One thing I've noticed about the US election campaign is that it increased water cooler talk around three often taboo subjects, namely race, age, and gender. In the end, I suppose we can thank W for one of the few positive aspects of his presidency!

Regardless of one's politics, it's hard to deny that so many taboos have been blown right out of the water in this election cycle. For the first time ever we had three serious candidates poised to knock down one of three walls in presidential politics: we had a serious female contender for both a major party's nomination and also a vice-president candidate, we had an African-American (or at least bi-racial candidate to be honest), and a senior citizen. Talk about a lot to digest in one election cycle!

This, I have noticed, has caused the scourges of ageism, racism, and sexism to be more frequently discussed in the workplace. This article reaffirms that it's not just me noticing it.

From a European perspective, the race issue seems to be the one that is drawing the most attention. It's been quite interesting to see how Europeans perceive American attitudes towards race. It's often a case of assigning their own feelings on Americans.

Despite the historic level of this American election, I don't think that the end result changes much in the workplace for women, people of color, or those on "the wrong side of 40".

While we may be ready to elect one of the above to the highest post in the land, it's not likely that tolerance for any of those qualities are going to serve you well when it's time for a merit-based promotion or a raise.