Working While Black

Fixing racist workplace cultures could add billions to the U.S. economy
bbernard /
April 27, 2022

The Civil Rights movement opened up new work opportunities for Black workers. But, decades later, African-Americans work disproportionately in low-wage jobs and are over-represented in the jobs at highest risk of vanishing because of workplace automation.

White workers, meanwhile, are 50 percent more likely to hold “future proof” jobs. These are the kind of jobs that build often on education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. And for those Black workers who do find a path to “future proof” jobs in health care or tech, the reward often includes a hostile work environment. And that’s bad news for every American. One study found that eliminating racial inequality could boost the U.S. economy by as much as $2.3 trillion a year. What are we waiting for?

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  • LeRon Barton, tech worker, author of two books, and essayist who has written “What It’s Like to be a Black man in Tech” and other pieces for the Harvard Business Review.
  • Nahsis Davis, a nurse and union member in Chicago.
  • Adia Harvey Wingfield, author of Flatlining: Race, Work and Healthcare in the New Economy, and professor of sociology at Washington University in St. Louis.