Race, Ethnicity and the American Workplace

Course Number
DYNM 6460 001
Course Code
Course Key
Footman, Lauren
Primary Program
Course Note
DYNM Category: F. DYNM Concentrations: LMC, GL
Course Description
The U.S. workplace has long been one of the foremost spheres in which racial and ethnic inequality is created and perpetuated. This course investigates how racial and ethnic inequality affect our experiences in the workplace as well as how we as employees, managers, and the like, can positively impact upon our work environments against bias to promote equality and inclusion. Although most Americans largely perceive the employment relationship as one's personal relationship with his/her "boss," one's occupation and/or "job" encompasses much more than that. How we come to work at the jobs that we do is about our access to larger institutional structures within society including education, family background, and, importantly our ascribed location within the social hierarchy. At the beginning of the course, we will spend time studying race and ethnicity as dynamic social and political constructs that evolve through time and space. We will examine how these constructs relate to social stratification, intergroup and intragroup relations, and economic and political hierarchies within U.S. society. The objective here is to provide you with a better understanding of how and why race continues to be such a powerful stratifying agent in contemporary America. We will spend time discussing the enduring power of structural racism in U.S. society--it's evolution since slavery, and its ability to restrict Black & Brown achievement and success within all spheres. How has the Covid-19 pandemic and the BLM movement further brought to light the rigidity of our peculiar system of racial stratification? How can we work to promote true equity and inclusion now? How can we come to work as our "authentic selves" where everyone has a seat at the table? What has history taught us about these issues? And, how can we learn both as individuals and members of organizations to make racial diversity, equity, and inclusion normative experiences for all? Work is a microcosm of our broader lived experiences and it is likely the most "diverse" place we experience in our lifetime. Simultaneously, we will focus on understanding history and evolution of diversity, equity and inclusion practices in the workplace as they relate to addressing racial and ethnic inequality. How have diversity and inclusion practices in the private and public sector evolved over time? How do these practices reflect broader historical and societal trends concerning social and racial inequality? What does it mean to go from compliance to commitment? Have we moved from "diversity for its own sake" to true and meaningful inclusion? What kinds of new initiatives and commitments have organizations made since the BLM protests this summer? How has BLM impacted theexperiences of employees of color to-date and where are things headed now? For the rest of the semester, we will examine how workplace inequality gets produced and reproduced along racial and ethnic fault lines. Do D, E, & I programs tailored to distinct groups alleviate issues of marginalization for employees? Why are successful D, E, & I programs profitable for big business? In addition, we will examine the intersections of race, gender, and class in the workplace; how do these intersections impact how we address inequality in hiring, promotions, and recidivism? We will study in-depth how and why personal and organizational biases remain mechanisms of inequity as well as how social class and gender intersect with race/ethnicity to contribute to workplace discrimination. We will host several guest lecturers throughout the semester.
Subject Area Vocab