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Three women: a Black woman, an Asian woman and a Black woman sit together in work conference room with notebooks and laptops. They look confused.
It’s been two years since corporations jumped on the diversity bandwagon after the tragic murder of George Floyd. They spoke about anti-Black racism and asserted their solidarity but promises are different than action. (Christina Wocintechchat/Unsplash)

Why corporate diversity statements are backfiring — Podcast

Equity, diversity, inclusion are buzzwords that may evoke social change, but for some they conjure empty promises on a glossy corporate brochure or statement at the bottom of a job listing.

How do institutions make actual change? Join us on this episode of Don’t Call Me Resilient as we speak with Professor Sonia Kang to discuss the pitfalls of tokenism and how institutions uphold institutional racism. She also shares some tips on how to thrive in the workspace.

In 2020, when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, worldwide protests against anti-Black police brutality prompted corporations to rush to address racism. They put out statements of solidarity and in some cases, affirmations of their commitment to anti-racism in the workplace.

But University of Toronto Prof. Kang says that without action-plans to back up those ideas, those statements can cause harm. They can lead to greater blocks to success for racialized employees and job seekers.

Join us and listen to Don’t Call Me Resilient as we speak with Prof. Kang to discuss her work and personal experiences. Kang is a Canada Research Chair in Identity, Diversity and Inclusion and host of the podcast For the Love of Work.

From performative allyship in the workplace to resumé whitening practices in job applications to the grey area in being a “diversity hire” or the first racialized employee, explore the many facets of tokenism and how we can challenge and reshape the institutional practices that keep racialized employees from thriving in the workplace.

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You can listen to or follow Don’t Call Me Resilient on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts. We’d love to hear from you, including any ideas for future episodes. Join The Conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok and use #DontCallMeResilient.


The Unintended Consequences of Diversity Statements

Whitened Résumés: Race and Self-Presentation in the Labor Market

Stereotypes at work: Occupational stereotypes predict race and gender segregation in the workforce

What Is Tokenism, and Why Does It Matter in the Workplace?

What is supertokenism and how can companies avoid it?

How Racism “Gets Under the Skin”: An Examination of the Physical- and Mental-Health Costs of Culturally Compelled Coping

Articles in The Conversation

Read the companion article to this episode of Don’t Call Me Resilient: “Being the ‘only one’ at work and the decades long fight against anti-Black racism” by Christopher Taylor.

Read more: Canadian universities: 10 years of anti-racist reports but little action

Read more: Corporate diversity targets could help dismantle systemic racism

Read more: If CEOs want to promote diversity, they have to 'walk the talk'

Read more: Diversity in the workplace must be matched with an atmosphere of genuine inclusion

Read more: Being the 'only one' at work and the decades long fight against anti-Black racism

Read more: Inclusion starts with better management – here's what employees say about making diversity work


The unedited version of the transcript is available here.

Don’t Call Me Resilient is produced in partnership with the Journalism Innovation Lab at the University of British Columbia and with a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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