How to Handle a Racist Boss

Despite the amount of progress we have made in recent decades, there is still a large portion of the Western population that holds racist views against whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics and the list goes on. This is rather unfortunate, particularly if it seeps into the workforce. 

See Also5 Examples of Racism in the Workplace

A person’s racist nature is usually concealed, and they do not openly air their grievances against another color of skin. However, there are still some that are proud of their racist beliefs, which they may show off at the company. Of course, someone may not call themselves a racist, but they do, in fact, make bigoted remarks on occasion.

When racism is prevalent in the workforce, it can create a toxic environment. It can be far worse than an office consumed with politics, gossip and bullying. Being racist is something reserved for troglodytes, KKK officials and nefarious individuals, but not for working professionals. At a time when race relations have seriously deteriorated, a boss or business owner should refrain from making racist remarks, no matter how innocent they think it is.

Is your boss constantly being racist? Here are five tips to tactfully handle a racist boss:

1. Initiate a Conversation With Your Boss

If your boss is either making racist comments from time to time or maintains an obvious bias against Tamils or Koreans, then you should initiate a private conversation with them. Take them aside, speak in a calm and respectful manner and explain that you take offense to these statements, and you’re sure others do as well. They may simply be immature or have listened to too much rap music that they have brought this with them to the business. 

2. Send a Letter to Human Resources

Following your conversation, your boss has returned to his old ways. If it persists then issue a letter to human resources and outline exactly what your boss has uttered, at what time and where as well as your private talks with the boss. Companies are explicitly against any type of prejudice and discrimination and may take immediate action against your boss. 

3. Openly Call Out Your Boss

Your boss hasn’t relented and human resources has yet to act so there may be one thing left to do: openly call out your boss and highlight his/her own racism. Being reproached in front of a dozen or so others in a humiliating fashion may actually prompt the boss to cease with this kind of behavior. Remember, you don’t have to be rude or use profanity, but standing up for yourself and others is more important.

4. Contact a Public Labor Agency

There are labor laws in place and various labor boards at the state/provincial and local level. If the company you work for has yet to take any action against this racist boss, business owner or manager then bureaucrats may intervene and investigate the matter. The discriminatory individual may be terminated and face a fine or imprisonment. 

5. Remain Cordial, Professional & Polite

No matter what happens, it’s imperative to remember to always remain cordial, professional and polite. Just because your boss is intolerant and has archaic views it doesn’t mean you should sink to his or her level. Moving forward, do your job, be helpful and follow orders.

See Also: How to Deal with a Racist Colleague

Lynn Coady of the Globe and Mail was asked this same question and responded with this:

"If these comments offend you, speak up. Even if they’re not directed toward a specific person, they create a toxic work environment. And if your boss makes it okay at the workplace, other employees may start to feel it is acceptable. It’s a slippery slope."

Whether it’s a black employer making racist remarks against white people or a Hispanic employer making fun of Asians, racism is racism, and it doesn’t matter who it is made by and who it is made against. When this type of language and behavior happens at the workforce, then it makes the entire eight-hour daily experience all that more unbearable.

Globe and Mail