How Upset Should I Be If I Was Hired Because I’m a Minority?
Dear Color Me Disappointed,
Wow, that’s a really tough issue to face. I’m glad you wrote, and I hope I can help you out some.
My first question is how do these colleagues know about the hiring process? Many companies encourage a strict confidentiality for human resources to avoid this very issue, and I am concerned that this information seems to be readily available and that it was shared openly.
Second, with regard to your question of being hired on your merit and the frustration you’re feeling, it’s important to remember that affirmative action was put into place because, historically, minorities have a harder time being employed. Studies have shown that résumés with minority names get 50% fewer callbacks for interviews than white-sounding names. Some people call this “everyday racism,” and it is one of the ways racism becomes systematic. You mentioned that there is a company mandate to diversify, and it sounds like the company sorely needs it and your hire may be one of the ways they are attempting to rectify it.
It could also be that you were the strongest candidate and the information you received is faulty. I question why your colleagues would feel it necessary to share this information with you and what they hoped to gain by doing so.
I also wonder whether this experience has activated some part of you, a part you’re not necessarily conscious of, that harbors feelings of inadequacy. Most people don’t get through life without taking on some of that in childhood, through no fault of their own. It’s important to recognize feelings that might be triggering and to remind yourself of your own value, even in the face of signs and experiences that may seem devaluing. You know you’re worthy of this position; as you said, you’re smart, resourceful, and a hard worker. If your employer didn’t know that before you were hired, it surely does by now.
As far as whether you should go to Human Resources, that is a deeply personal decision. Do you think you can work at this company with this awareness and the accompanying questions? Will you be able to live with the answer if they acknowledge that they hired you based on your status as a minority? Are you comfortable working in an environment where deeply personal and private conversations such as why a person was hired over another are made common knowledge?
Unfortunately, this is a situation many minorities still have to deal with and there’s still a long way to go in terms of eliminating racism.
It seems to me that this great opportunity has been tainted for you, and understandably so. It may be worthwhile to have a conversation with HR to express your concerns. At the very least, they may make some changes in how information is protected. As you noted, you may be seen as “rocking the boat” if you do that and some people might not like it. It may make for a challenging work environment, but you have to weigh whether the benefit of speaking up is more than the possible cost.
Unfortunately, this is a situation many minorities still have to deal with and there’s still a long way to go in terms of eliminating racism. There are many who have the same questions you do and who feel they have to work harder or perform better to prove they deserve what they have gotten. It’s not an easy situation to be in, so I encourage you to call upon your support system to help you process this situation and your feelings about it. It might also be worthwhile to seek out a therapist who can help you further process what you’re feeling.
I encourage you to take care of yourself while you decide what to do—rest well, spend time with loved ones, and do what makes you feel good. After you’ve allowed yourself to process and release some of the emotional charge, if you decide to go to HR, you will be grounded, confident, and responsive, and less likely to be offended or reactive.
Wishing you well and hoping for the best,
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EricaAugust 28th, 2015 at 10:39 AM
you have a job- celebrate- show them that you are a good employee regardless of the color of your skin or your ethnic background
SteveAugust 28th, 2015 at 1:04 PM
Maybe against all of the odds you were a better interview and match for the job. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and move on
rileyAugust 29th, 2015 at 2:13 PM
I too would question why someone would even feel the need to bring this up to you! Or why they would in any way think that it was professional to share this kind of information? I would seriously reconsider who I hung out with because it sounds like this kind of talk is actually in some ways being fueled by THEIR feelings of inadequacy around you, and they could have seriously been saying these things to just make you feel bad about yourself.
deGarmoAugust 30th, 2015 at 9:19 AM
Why not take this as a chance to show them that you are so much more than just the color of your skin??
EdwardAugust 31st, 2015 at 3:49 AM
And use this as a stepping stone to something even bigger and better
McCoyAugust 31st, 2015 at 10:41 AM
Well it’s not like you have been discriminated against. Think about it form the view of someone who has been turned down because they are NOT a minority. I would think that that is the person who would feel bad. You should be pleased that there was something about you that stood out and led to your getting the job. If there are huge issues with it, I do think that I would go to HR to hash it out.
HowardSeptember 8th, 2015 at 10:38 AM
This could be a really great stroke of good luck for you- look at it as an opportunity, you have the job, and now it is time to make it your own. Defy the odds.
CathySeptember 17th, 2015 at 2:07 PM
How upset should you be to know that there are others out there trying to bring you down with all this negativity? That’s what I would be the most upset about.
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