Caution: A Color-Blind Approach in Organizations Is Ineffective

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Many people believe that the most important contribution they personally can make in creating a more inclusive culture is to be “color-blind.” The implication is that an individual’s race and/or cultural background is irrelevant, and that regarding staffing, people’s contributions should be evaluated solely on how well they can “do the job,” and regarding programming, one-size-fits-all. While it sounds like a color-blind approach would be compassionate and would value all people equally, it actually doesn’t … because in a color-blind approach, the different needs, assets, and perspectives of people are disregarded: they are “unseen.” 

  • STAFFING: Acknowledging and even celebrating diversity inspires greater commitment, pride, and conscientiousness among employees of color.
  • PROGRAMING: Focusing on race and ethnicity of clients and community results in programs that better meet their needs.

 A recent study, “Is Multiculturalism or Color Blindness Better for Minorities?” (Plaut, Thomas, and Goren, Psychological Science, 2009), found that the more color-blind a workplace purported to be, the more racial bias employees experienced.  Organizations with a more multicultural approach are more productive and profitable. Creating a more inclusive culture and organization requires paying attention to race, ethnicity, and culture rather than turning a “blind eye” to these differences.  

 

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
     Mohandas Gandhi