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What it’s like to be a minority in the workplace today

Jeanie Ahn
Senior Producer/Reporter

America is more diverse than ever -- and only getting more so.  According to the Census Bureau, more than half of children in the U.S. are expected to be part of a minority race or ethnic group by 2020. But even though we have more cultures in the mix, age-old racial stereotypes still hold some people back both personally and professionally.

Sure, at work most people are on their best behavior, censoring their words and behaviors. But it’s not uncommon for minorities, who make up 21% of the workforce, to experience racial slights on a daily basis.

To better understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of these biases, Yahoo Finance spoke with a diverse group of professionals and found that most have been, at one time or another, victims of racial bias in the workplace.

Munir Jawed, a 29-year-old Indian-American and founder of “The Regulars,” a payment platform for freelancers, says potential investors would constantly ask him who his co-founder was, expecting him to be the tech guy.

Nilsa Salgado, 25, a soft-spoken introvert working as an educator, says her colleagues expect her to be “sassy” and “opinionated” because she’s Hispanic.

On the other end of the spectrum, Tamara Best, an African-American media professional, told Yahoo Finance, “As a black woman in the workplace, if you are passionate about what you do, or you’re passionate about what you’re talking about, that can sometimes be labeled as “angry.”

Real estate broker Benjamin Eversley, 30, says he works twice as hard to prove himself and show people that black men are educated.

Even with the best of intentions, Eversley says his colleagues typically engage him in conversations based on their preconceived notions. “I like rap music...but that’s the only thing they talk to me about. They really don’t want to talk to me about real issues, about what i really care about,” he says.

Cat Sandoval, a 34-year-old Asian-American journalist, says she feels the pressure to be smart and know everything at the office: “I’m human, I’m just like everyone else, and I’m free to make mistakes.”

Faced with the challenge of creating a welcoming, productive working environment for all, many companies are working to improve their corporate diversity programs. Whether they're instituting new "unconscious bias training" programs to help banish biases like Facebook and Coke, or creating a diversity task force to tackle the problems, corporate diversity is a hot topic.

















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