People are done with workplace racism

Workplace racism and other forms of discrimination happen all the time. Despite the fact that it’s illegal. Not only is it toxic, it’s also flat-out disrespectful. But no matter how many reported cases there are of workplace racism every day, no matter how many complaints an employee makes, it’s still as prevalent as it can be.

This is why more and more employees are quitting their 9-to-5, leaving the traditional work environments, and shifting to freelancing full-time. It may be a huge career change for some but they likely experience less racism. And there’s definitely less office drama and toxic co-workers.

How office politics and racism affect employees

Let’s step back a little and see how office politics and racism affect employees. For starters, it creates a toxic work environment. It also causes burnout for employees of color as they have to deal with feeling unsafe or even attacked at work every day.

It also dials down the creativity at work. Whether it’s the lack of hiring enough people of color or choosing not to hear their ideas, the absence of diversity eventually leads to the absence of creativity. And how can a business successfully grow when there is a lack of creativity in the office?

Eventually, there will also be a lack of people in the office itself. If office politics and racism continue, people will leave. That’s just how it is. And while it may not sound like a big deal, it actually costs a company quite a lot when hiring new people.

POC still struggle with pandemic-related unemployment

Such costs are not the only problem. Another problem in America’s labor situation is the fact that people of color still struggle from pandemic-related unemployment. This isn’t due to a lack of jobs to apply to but rather some companies seem to favor white, Caucasian people. This struggle is what’s encouraging people of color to explore other options. To not rely on corporations for a living but instead, build opportunities themselves.

Freelancing gives people of color a space to just be

One of the great alternatives for people of color who are done with workplace racism is the freelance route. In fact, even though offices are starting to open again, many employees are opting to continue working from home. While home means crying baby or unsupervised Netflix-ing, it also means having a space to just be. To not be judged or to not feel like you’re walking on eggshells. A safe space where you won’t be treated unfairly or differently. 

Beyond the physical space, freelancing allows people to build the kind of business they want without worrying that their skin color or accent may negatively affect their goal. They don’t have to deal with negative commentaries and being denied opportunities because of their race.

What does this mean for traditional work setups

Well, the most obvious one is that this means companies should do better. While racism is not something we can solve overnight, corporations could definitely do better. Traditional work setups are starting to return but are employees really happy about it?

If you think the great resignation is over because offices are re-opening and that things are starting to get back to normal, think again. Research shows that over 30% of employees in the US are still considering quitting their jobs. Sixty-two percent of the surveyed people say their number one reason for considering quitting is toxic company culture. Racism is part of it.

The same research revealed that 25% actually quit their job in the last 6 months alone. And 68% of these people quit even without another job lined up. Racism and toxic office culture affects people to the point of quitting and choosing a more uncertain, yet freeing route.

While freelancing doesn’t always offer the same kind of financial stability, the fact that the number of freelancers in the US continues to rise shows that members of the workforce see it as a viable option to make a living. It’s more than a temporary solution just so they could pay the bills, but it can actually pay the bills month after month. And more importantly, this shows that people prefer to pave their own paths and build businesses from scratch than deal with unfavorable treatment in the workplace.

Tammy Danan

Tammy Danan is a storyteller who reports on environmental and social issues. She also covers productivity, creative pursuits, and the future of work. Her words have appeared in VICE, Audubon.org, ZEKE Magazine, Shutterstock, Toggl, among others. You may find her on Instagram @SlowFreelancing.