A friend of mine is facing this dilemma at work. She asked me for advice...
She is being treated unfairly at her company. She has to put up with racist remarks and religious intolerance. The situation is further compounded, as the person treating her in this manner is her direct superior who also happens to be the HR Officer for the company. When she approached the woman, to voice her concerns, she was told she was imagining it all.
After the chat with her superior, she was victimised and targeted. She became the topic of conversation, as her superior started discussing their chat.
My friend eventually plucked up the courage to write a letter to the company CEO, but to date no action has been taken.
Maybe I was wrong in my advice to her; “look for another job and leave, this woman won’t change or leave you in peace!”
From the outside looking in, it seems the company’s sense of justice and fair play is a mixed up, if the CEO won’t do anything what other options are there/ how much higher can one go?
Was my response a coward’s response; wise words or the reality which we face?
Even though we have the CCMA or other organisations where we can lodge this scourge; some people weigh up whether it’s worth the stress of fighting racism. No one wants that stigma attached to them on a job reference; so they simply bow out without rocking the boat.
Is this the right approach?
Racism in the work place or should l say amongst ourselves in all spheres still exists, no matter how much we mask it or pretend or even say it doesn’t exist, it does. I know most will say no way; racism is in one’s head. Not long ago, there were incidents at the Virgin Active Gyms. I recall the twitter row in Dec 2011, with Helen Zille at the centre of it all.
People are definitely not born with hatred in their hearts; they were either taught at an early age, or influenced in other ways later on in life. Even though South Africa has come a long way, with our multiple layers of diversity, it’s still shocking how prejudiced we are. If it’s not the colour of one’s skin, then it's one's religion or culture. For me, I think the problem arises when one group thinks it’s superior or more important than another. Shouldn’t we be judged less for WHAT we are and be respected for WHO we are?
When people say, we should practice “tolerance”, what that says to me, is that you still dislike me based on skin colour, nationality, religion etc, but you have to grit your teeth and endure me.
Which means you have not changed in your hatred, you just putting a muffler on it?
It’s also shocking how callous people are in criticising sections of society, in being openly disrespectful to their culture and believing they are inferior to them because of their beliefs or traditions. We witness it daily, when one tries to educate another about their beliefs, you will get people who go out of their way to ridicule, insult and belittle your beliefs. This is not the folly of any one religion, all religions are built on the tenets of tolerance and equality, so where does this stem from?
We should try and raise the future generations with beliefs that every human being is equal. That people irrespective of race, colour or creed should be respected. That whether you are near or in a Temple; Church; Synagogue or Mosque.... respect is paramount. Accept and love people for who they are.
I know I can’t change everyone in the world, but I can start with my own child, and hope that he sees the world clearer without multiple tints of prejudice.
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