Why Racism Still Happens In The Workplace: A Spiral Dynamics Perspective

know thyself tips for managers Sep 17, 2019

In 1865, the Union won the US Civil War, and slavery became illegal in all states (as in, the states' rights to have it was abolished). 

In 1955, Rosa Parks, tired from a hard day's work, refused to move to the back of the bus. 

It's now 2019, but we are seeing that racism still exists in the corporate workplace. It's subtle, it's hidden. But it's still there in the minds and non-inclusive behaviors of employees. 

It's not just whites discriminating against people of color. It's the majority mindset. A famous Latin manufacturing company will never have a white guy on its leadership team. A large European financial firm will not ever promote any person without an important name of many last name strings into any influential position, or any person over 50 years old. A company in Southeast Asia with a mostly white management team coldly ignores the Asian workers in company parties and instead huddle together in groups, talking to no one else.

As much as many companies promote "diversity", it usually only means "gender diversity" as it's finally "OK" to promote women to higher positions. I'm all for that, and it's a great start, but what about prejudice against people with disabilities, mental illnesses (the stigma is real), gender-neutral, other races, or introverts?

Why Does This Still Happen?

Racism still happens because of the level of human consciousness in which it lives has not yet reached a point where differences in people are completely and subconsciously accepted and unconditionally loved. It still happens because it's still meant to happen. Let me explain.

Spiral Dynamics -- a psychological model of human consciousness -- tells us that culture, science, religion, and societies tend to huddle in certain levels of physiological, psychological & spiritual development. We as the human race started out in a tribal culture, following the leader without question.  This is the Purple Level. Then wars started and we needed a psychopathic leader to win them and protect our tribe - and the Red "Power God" Stage came about.

But then humans started seeing the limitations of life under a Red Stage bully. They began considering the effects of their lives on the afterlife, and when religion and other moral systems came about, people were required to do what was "right" and "good" and avoid the "bad". And so the Blue Stage was born.  

As people began to realize that they held personal power to improve themselves and acquire wealth, the pendulum swung once again from the collective mindset to a more independent mindset. In this new Orange Stage, it's all about meritocracy, making money, and being efficient. This is where most corporations live (mixed with some blue corporations in parts of the world). 

However, people are beginning to see the limitations of the Orange Level in the creation of toxic, competitive cultures, and it's harming of the planet we live in with excessive consumption and expansion. We are swinging back from the individual to the collective consciousness -- where a holistic approach is valued: of peace, sustainability, and collaboration. Helping the world and serving others. This is the Green Stage. This is where Empaths are born.  

However, Green has its limitations, as it can be too idealistic and hesitant to make decisions without everyone agreeing, so it's hard to carry out plans. Unhealthy Green can be very intolerant of intolerance; they aren't able to see or understand that the stage that each person or group is in is a perfect starting point for their development upwards, and that why it's ok for them to be there at that moment. Everyone needs to understand the lessons of their stage before they can move on. And demonizing their stage of psychological and spiritual development and consciousness is the easiest way to keep them stuck in that stage and keep the world from moving up in consciousness.

Hence racism still exists, because people in the lower levels of consciousness (this is not to be looking down on them, as all are needed) still exists. Green is the first level where we can see a push toward real social equality, where Orange was a meritocracy. Technically in Orange, any prejudice could be overcome with outstanding performance. 

Once we realize the limitations of Green, we rise in consciousness to the Yellow Stage, which moves the pendulum back to the individual rather than the collective, except it's all about using dynamic systems to help and cure the world. It's all about being logical, flexible, and understanding what level everybody is operating from, and not making it wrong, but moving forward from there. 

The final stage (which is not the final stage of all reality, but it's the last stage we know of humanity reaching) is the mystical Turquoise stage, where few inhabit regularly, and this is the most spiritual stage where we experience the knowing of oneness, and how we are all connected. 

A Look At Racism Through Colored Lenses

The reason racism still exists no matter how "taboo" it might appear in media today, is because most corporations are in the Blue or Orange level, not the Green one. Empaths are usually in the Yellow, Turquoise or Green realms, and that's why most corporations are not ready for them, but badly need them to raise the vibration & consciousness of corporate life. 

Because most corporations are blue or orange, they will tend to favor the founding family, or people whom they subconsciously deem more worthy -- the healthy (read: the nondisabled, the young or the people with no diagnosed mental disorder) and the ones like them (the same race, gender or sexual orientation). Orange can be a meritocracy, but there is still that "one perception" mentality - the perception that their reality is the only one. And in their reality, "I like who is like me."

Let's be empathic for a moment and step into the shoes of the perceptions of society which are ruled by a certain color under Spiral Dynamics. Note that most first-world economies, cultures, and countries are going to be either Blue, Orange, or Green, with the majority of the world right now influenced by Orange.  

Blue says: "Other cultures and races are inferior. That's just how it is. Just look at this evidence [uses selective evidence to confirm his fear] I have absolute authority and the final say." 

Orange says: "____ race is lazy. Ain't nobody got time for that. I need to make money. If someone from another race or culture looks, acts and thinks like me, they are likely to be super productive like me, so I'm willing to include them in my group. If they don't act like me, they need to show me they can get results before they are trusted. Or, I may be wary of them because they are my competitor."

Green says: "We are all in this world together and deserve to be treated equally. We all belong and we all have a part. No one deserves to be taken advantage of or judged (although may secretly judge others)." 

Yellow says: "Look, you can be close to 50, but that does not mean you are close to being fired and pre-retired (yes, this is happening in the world). The reality is, you have only lived half your life. It would be a shame to waste 50 more years of intelligence, creativity and grace. Work for us if you want, earn us more money, get job security that you won't be fired for your age."

Turquoise says: "Race does not matter because this world is made of infinite energy and we are energetic beings occupying a human body that happens to have a skin color. We are all one, and human categorization is superfluous as we are all connected and we are all love. We need to get back to love because that is what we are."

It is our consciousness that must change before racism is conquered. A problem caused by one level of consciousness can never be solved by the same level. The solution must come from a higher level of consciousness. 

However, no one can skip any level of consciousness. Like in spirituality, you must learn the lessons of one level before proceeding to the next. When we were a baby, we were born into the Beige level of consciousness -- everything was about our immediate survival. Then we moved to purple, red, blue... and if we live in a first-world country, then we are indoctrinated by society in blue, orange or green. 

The truth is, we are very fortunate. Even if we are at orange, where racism still lives, but covertly, we must accept that we need to be here in order to grow.  You must appreciate and become and live all the things of one level before you move to the next. 

Healing The Hidden Disease Of Racism / Lack of Diversity

So what's an Empath or Empathic Manager to do to heal this invisible disease in the workplace? Raise the consciousness of the people. It is our calling to make the world a better place. And we do that by accepting the level our society is in and encourage them to see the next perspective by leading by example. If your society is in Blue, encourage people to improve themselves and know their individual power. If your society is in Orange, guide people to ways to make a more sustainable profit with a diverse workforce. Show them the merits of other types of people and that a diverse workforce are actually more profitable.

It will take time to heal these wounds. Remember first that we are exactly where we need to be at this point in time, and racism is meant to happen at this level of consciousness... to make us aware that a change is needed. That an upgrade is due.

A strong culture is a good start. A good HR team to help create and enforce the culture is needed. Good, dependable people of any race, gender, age or origin are needed to create a culture of loyalty, humility, flexibility, and collaboration. 

A good culture is needed, one person at a time. And if you are a manager, you have even more power and influence to lead others to raise the consciousness of humankind. It starts with you... to raise the awareness, the consciousness. Never underestimate the power of one. 

Do you agree with this perspective? Leave your own thoughts and experiences in the comments below. 

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