Updated: Aug 11, 2020
By: Logan Cohen, Professional Therapist & Online Life Coach - Balanced Man Plan Online Life Coaching for Men
"Are white men the new workplace minority?" This is a question I have heard many times as a professional in the workplace, as well as in my own clinical work with clients as a Professional Therapist and Online Life Coach.
I inhabit an interesting position myself in the "social stratosphere", if you will – somewhat on the margins between what is identified as “white man” – and sometimes not.
As a Jewish man of Eastern European descent, many people physically see me as a “white man”, especially if I keep my mouth shut and it’s not summertime (I get really tan with minimal sun exposure). If I go along with the expected behaviors of other white men, they tend to treat me as a “cultural insider” - including the occasional comment about more women and minorities in the workplace who are threatening their jobs. Are white men the new workplace minority??
In January of 2019, an article was published by the Wall Street Journey about a Male engineer at Google who sued the company for discrimination against “conservative white men”.
If you think that these former Google engineers might not be alone in their beliefs, then you would be correct. It turns out that this is not only a trend that white men have been disclosing to me as a perceived "insider", but research studies looking into this trend are reporting that this question is asked more commonly by white conservative men in the professional workplace – Are White Men the New Workplace Minority?
Research studies focusing on tech and healthcare workers in Silicone Valley actually show that while many White Men specifically appear to believe that in general, white men are the new workplace minority - women and workers of other Minority status make up only 7-9% of workers in this tech sector, while representing 11-16% of the American workforce overall. This means that women and workers of Minority status actually make up considerably less of the workforce per capita, yet many conservative white men are attempting to sue companies for “reverse discrimination.”
In addition, the careers website Payscale also reported in March of 2019 that while white men and men of color were granted pay raises at their request 25% of the time, women of color were only granted raises 19% of the time.
In fact, Federal statistics show us that black women actually have an unemployment rate 84% HIGHER than white men. When assessed together, these numbers actually reflect a situation where women and people of color still hold less professional capital than their colleagues who are white men, yet we still area hearing this question now more than ever - "Are white men the new workplace minority?"
Under further investigation of the actual data, we can see that conservative white men are statistically still in a dominant position relative to women and People of color. So why do so many People believe that men are the new workplace minority?
5 Explanations of Why People Mistakenly Believe that White Men are the New Workplace Minority
#1 Explanation of Why People Mistakenly Believe White Men are the New Workplace Minority – Less Bias Against Women
While Women have a long way to go before reaching workplace equality, there has been movement with decreased discrimination in the workplace. One example of evidence for this is in the #MeToo Movement, where Men in executive positions were shown that “they too” can be held accountable for their sexual violence against Women and less powerful Men in the workplace. Until this movement, more Women than many of us Men can imagine coped with sexual violence just to maintain their positions in the professional workforce. This is a clear example of recent decrease of discrimination against Women in the Workplace.
Humans tend to get ourselves into trouble with “Black and White Thinking” - also called “All or Nothing Thinking” - and especially when we are experiencing stress. In fact, it is an old saying the field of counseling, education, and developmental theory that, "When we stress - we regress."
Conservative white men have undoubtedly noticed increased numbers of women and people of color in the professional workplace - especially in "white collar" positions. When compared to historical data, this perceived loss of professional footing results in an automatic assumption that less opportunity must now be available to conservative white men.
This phenomenon is called the "scarcity bias" - it creates an automatic thought whereby People assume that the value of a good increases due to the mere fact that it is scarce. According to the laws of financial balance in a capitalist system, "financial resources" or MONEY is often viewed with this erroneous lens. This is one reason that money cannot by you Happiness, but we will save that one for another day...
Over time and with repeated experiences highlighting these impressions - whether fundamentally flawed or not - often serves to result in a state of “learned helplessness”. This is where an individual perceives an inability to influence their immediate environment no matter how hard they try (i.e. sad dog left out on a chain in the yard). This tends to be the most pronounced and DANGEROUS thinking error that precipitates suicide.
Research shows that scarcity bias is a flawed thinking pattern is typical of men towards women, as well as white People towards People of color.
#2 Explanation of Why People Mistakenly Believe White Men are the New Workplace Minority – Less Bias Against People of Color
Just like with women in the workplace, People of color in the workplace have also experienced less racial biases since the 1964 Civil Rights Act and since then, have steadily grown in numbers relative to historical data as reflected by the professional workplace. Just like with the “Black and White Thinking” creating errors in thought pointing to the culprit of less resources being available to men just because more women are given access themselves, many White Men believe that since there is now increased access to the professional workplace for people of color, that this must mean there are now less resources available to them.
This is not a cake and there is not some fixed limit on how much money can be made in a free market by definition - EVEN with a balanced economy in place. Yet, the myth of scarcity continues...
#3 Explanation of Why People Mistakenly Believe White Men are the New Workplace Minority – white men tend to exhibit lower emotional intelligence, and are therefore less likely to be optimal “Management Material”
Research shows that since women and People of color are given less social advantages relative to white men and have been in this social position for hundreds of years, this can result in white men getting less opportunity to practice a more varied interpersonal skill-set. Since white men are given more influence by virtually every established institution in the United States, white men tend to be less required to find creative and mutually beneficial ways to overcome barriers - as opposed to relying primarily on individual competition or hierarchical leverage.
It is much more common for white men to make a decision in the workplace, voice their opinion, then let the chips fall where they may without a second thought. As white men, we can go ahead and assume that our viewpoints will get as much or more consideration than anyone else’s, so we don’t have to lean on personal relationships as much to get things done.
Young women and People of color are socialized to be much more comfortable with social cooperation over independence – humility over pride in accomplishments – consistent work ethic regardless of the glory of the last “win”.
Given these learned traits, is it a surprise that many male boss’s are missing the qualities that would allow them to be Great Leaders? What might be different if that brilliant, but jerky boss could send the message to his Team that the Human Beings on it were more important than his personal goals? How much more effective if they leaned a bit more on social cooperation, humility, and grinding with their Team?
If Men are not careful in deliberately developing our skill-sets around emotional intelligence, we will get passed up by Female peers and peers of color who are in reality passing White Men up in the workplace.
#4 Explanation of Why People Mistakenly Believe White Men are the New Workplace Minority - Change is Threatening
This is a basic law of Sociology and Psychology – all animals – Human Beings included - appreciate order and predictability. Daily Life can get pretty CHAOTIC as we spin around the Sun, so it is common for People to stick with what they know. Have you heard of the “Fear of the Unknown”? Same thing….
This is an old law of Animals and even predates the evolution of Human Beings. As a result, all Animals are driven strongly to actively maintain a sense of expected order.
The provision of greater power to white men by the institutions that govern Modern Western Civilization is another “old tradition” – albeit NOT as old as animals’ affinity for order and predictability.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was only passed about 50 years ago – compared to a few THOUSANDS of years that Western Europeans have been in a dominant position relative to People of Color (again – different). And while beginning to overcome the shortcomings inherent in institutionalized racism, recent years have been an important time period of social evolution in the 20th century, Women have been in a marginalized position to men – otherwise referred to as “patriarchy” – since written records of Humankind have been found.
It is no surprise that many Americans are wondering if white men are the new workplace minority. Employers have only recently been encouraged to consider Human applicants – who might also be of color or female – able to compete directly with white men in the professional job market. This is a very new occurrence in the American workplace relatively speaking - so would be expected to be seen as threatening.
In addition to the existing factors of discrimination that appear to be “a changing”, the latest data pulled by the census bureau in 2015 showed that white people are actually set to become a population minority by 2060. Even though we all want to know what to expect in the future, this fear of the unknown creates a situation where even hearing these statistics are shown to result in increased perception (however FAULTY) of reverse discrimination in the workplace.
#5 Explanation of Why People Mistakenly Believe White Men are the New Workplace Minority – Myth of Meritocracy
Not many People will be familiar with the phrase “Myth of Meritocracy”. In order to explain this, let’s start with the longer word in there that we don’t see around very often – meritocracy.
When I we consult our well learned friend Wikipedia, we are told that “meritocracy is a political system in which economic goods and/or political power are vested in individual people on the basis of talent, effort, and achievement, rather than factors such as heredity or wealth. Advancement in such a system is based on performance, as measured through examination or demonstrated achievement.” To be even more brief, this means that the resources we have available to us are dependent solely on our merit – our own earning with our own blood, sweat, and tears.
This means that if we have more resources, this must mean we have earned these resources outright based on our own merit. This is where that phrase, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” comes from. – but what if your boots don’t have the extra straps? Or what if you couldn’t even afford boots, but only slippers? And what if you cannot afford shoes AT ALL?
Many Americans cannot afford shoes at all, therefore making it that much less likely that they are able to actually “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” - or otherwise utilize their available resources to overcome trials and tribulations. In 2017, census information showed that white Americans only made up 8% of those in the United States who live below the poverty line. This means that while America is often called “the land of the free and the Home of the Brave”, this is not actually the case in reality insofar as equal distribution of financial wealth.
What is the case, is that we as Americans often make the faulty assumption that those who are less financially fortunate are actually less deserving of these resources. This error in thought is not only assumed towards the less fortunate, but also towards those around us who are more financially fortunate.
Studies show an inherent assumption (again, as faulty as any other blind guess) that people who have more money are “more happy and satisfied in their Lives”. This is actually not the case and while poverty is certainly correlated to lower Health & Happiness outcomes, studies have actually shown that past an annual household income of 70K a year, increased household income had NO IMPACT on relative Health and/or Happiness.
Interestingly enough, this was only true up to a certain point of financial productivity into the realms of the “super-rich” - where that correlation was found to be OPPOSITE with Health & Happiness.
So what happens when the opposite of this statistical regularity is found? What happens when white men who have experienced all of the "creature comforts" throughout their Lives associated with “making it” in Modern Society - then they lose it? What happens when us white men draw on every source of inherent resilience we have developed, but we find that at this point in our Lives, this trial and/or tribulation looks like it will actually kick - our - ass.
Do you remember the images of white collar professionals jumping our of windows in New York City and Chicago during the Stock Market Crash preceding the Great Depression? That is what the Myth of Meritocracy looks like when it reaches its BREAKING POINT.
The current rates of suicide among Men has reached epidemic proportions and in large part, is related directly back to the Myth of Meritocracy described in this article. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for White Men under 50.
When it comes down to it, roughly TWICE the amount of Americans die every year by suicide than homicide and 4 out of 5 of these suicide deaths are MEN. If we break down the race variable here, we will see that of those Men who completed suicide, the victims of suicide were almost THREE TIMES more likely to be white than of African American descent.