Watercooler: The missing wedding invitation

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Watercooler is the section of the blog in which we share with you real-life horror stories from the frontlines of race in the workplace. :) This week, we have a story from Merq:

So there’s this guy, we’ll call him Frank, who is a first-generation Greek American. Now, Frank can only be described as a “special” kind of fellow… There are a million race-related stories involving him, but today I’m going to tell just one.

Our boss, Jim, is really the salt of the earth. Every one of his employees can list at least five instances where Jim has gone (far) above and (way) beyond his role as an employer to help resolve issues in their personal lives. It’s because of Jim that we are a surprisingly tight-knit team—an anomaly in our organization. So anyway…

Frank gets engaged, but he drops hints to suggest that he’d prefer that none of us show up to the wedding. Besides the larger Caucasian population of our small department, the group includes individuals of Nigerian (me), Egyptian, and Korean origin. But while many of us could care less about not being welcome at this wedding, I was more than a little disgusted at his refusal to invite our boss, Jim.

A little background on Jim and Frank: This man campaigned to the higher-ups to elevate Frank’s status from an internship to a high-ranking position within our department. This man got into heated arguments with said higher-ups when they refused to give Frank a raise. This man listened to Frank whine for hours on end whenever he argued with his fiancée (and they fought a lot), offering the best advice one could after 22 years of happy, stable married life. This man even went to Frank’s amateur league baseball games from time to time! The only problem was, this man was black. Continue Reading »

Recommended Reading

by Race in the Workplace special correspondent Erica

I have a “great job,” lots of money, responsibility and respect. Why aren’t I happy? - Escape from Cubicle Nation
If your values and your current work situation don’t align, you probably won’t be happy. People spend a remarkable amount of time in jobs they don’t really like because they don’t recognize this or don’t do anything about it.

5 steps to let your dream job find you - Marketing Nirvana
These days, everyone has an online presence. Leverage that to establish yourself as knowledgeable in your field by blogging and participating online conversations on topics of interest. Then network like crazy, both online and off. Think LinkedIn, not myspace.

How Blogging Can Help You Get a New Job - WSJ.com
Remember: Your potential employer will probably Google you. Someone who has the power to offer you a job may come across your blog. This is where you show off your writing skills and passion on a subject. Doesn’t hurt to mention you’re job-hunting on your About page, either. On the flip side, they might not be impressed by your detailed account of how trashed you got last weekend.

Five ways to do better in phone interviews - Brazen Careerist
Pretending as if you’re actually doing the interview in person, even though it’s just over the phone, helps you project confidence.

What Your Body Is Telling an Interviewer - Career Hub
Some tips on what to do and what not to do. Basically, try not to look nervous and be attentive. Perhaps also useful for playing poker. I’m guilty of having a couple things on the What Not to Do list as regular nervous habits.

It’s Easy to Signal that Racist “Chatter” Isn’t a Big Deal! - The Black Factor
If you hear comments that are offensive, don’t let it slide. You can make your point effectively by simply getting up and walking away. I recently received a forwarded joke from a co-worker that was very anti-immigrant. I was offended but didn’t know what to say without getting into a whole to-do-da. I could have simply told them not to send me anymore jokes.

Do you need to be hip? - Management Craft
Managers and leaders need to be hip in the sense that they know what’s going on with the people that work for them. Especially when that means you’re keeping up with technology (like blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc.) that could potentially help your team work better.

Why Severance? - Evil HR Lady
Companies give out severance packages because it’s cheaper than being sued for wrongful termination (among other reasons). “Companies would prefer not to have to give out this money, but even one lawsuit can be very expensive as well as being a public relations nightmare. If you are in any protected class (minority, female, over 40, etc) getting you to go away happily is their biggest concern.”

Recommended Reading is a weekly feature where we link to some of our favorite workplace-related blog posts and articles. If you would like to suggest a link to Erica, please email tips@raceintheworkplace.com