The impact of critical race theory (CRT) in workplace training could be detrimental to employees, leading to increased bullying and anxiety in work settings, according to human resources expert and author Jim Stroud.
The quasi-Marxist theory has been heavily promulgated throughout academia, entertainment, government, schools, and the workplace in recent years, rising to new prominence following the rise of far-left groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Some employers have included concepts from the doctrine—which some claim teaches that the United States is a fundamentally racist country and that one race is inherently superior to another—in their “racial and cultural sensitivity” training.
Stroud, who has 20 years’ experience in human resources and has written about CRT’s impact on the workplace, argues that such training could negatively impact workplace dynamics by causing employees to mistrust each other.
“So imagine that you’re working in a space and the day before the training, everything was fine,” Stroud told NTD’s “The Nation Speaks.” “You work with your co-workers, you had good friendships, good team building exercises, everything is fine. After the training, you’re looking at your co-workers in a different way. You’re wondering, okay, I thought you were my friend, but because of this training, I now believe that you’re oppressing me, so I don’t really know if we’re really friends. I don’t really know if we’re really working together. I don’t know if the reason why you refused me taking on some project is because my idea wasn’t valid or because you’re racist.”
Stroud also noted that employees may also question whether they were chosen to work on a certain project because they were suitable for the job or because of some corporate policy aiming to fulfill at curbing discrimination stemming from intersectionality. Intersectionality is the concept where different aspects of a person’s identity can expose them to overlapping forms of discrimination and marginalization.
“So I also think that it would bring about a lot of anxiety inside the workplace, because if people disagree with critical race theory then you will be accused of being racist, which is what critical race theory does,” he said.
If an employee continues to deny that accusation, CRT states that individual is “all the more racist,” according to Stroud. Eventually, this anxiety could lead some people to create hostility in the workplace.
Stroud said that CRT is essentially a “movement to make racism acceptable,” saying it teaches the idea that “white people are born oppressors without redemption and that all minorities are oppressed.”
“It teaches that the most important thing about anyone is their skin color, not their character, not the things they do, not the personality, not even the environment that they inhabit,” he said. “That’s purely telling you that your worth and everything you are is measured in the color of your skin.”
The movement to push back on the expansion of CRT in schools and workplace training has fueled a heated debate over how cultural and racial sensitivity education should be conducted. Conservatives and Republicans have warned that the CRT movement is not about eliminating racism and is simply pushing divisive concepts. On the other side of the issue, progressives and Democrats argue that the CRT approach would advance equity for all.
During his administration, President Donald Trump placed a ban on critical race theory training in federal workplaces, but President Joe Biden rescinded the measure. Instead, Biden has promoted policies that embrace the ideology, issuing an executive order stating that the federal government must pursue “a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all.”
Stroud said he believes that the best way for corporations who are grappling with partisan politics in their organization is to attempt to steer conversations away from politics. However, he warned that this could prompt backlash, citing the example of employee exodus at software firm Basecamp. The technology company saw mass resignations after its CEO announced that its employees were banned from openly sharing their “societal and political discussions” at work.
In a blog post, Basecamp CEO Jason Fried explained that the discussions are “a major distraction,” also stating of the issue that it “saps our energy” and “redirects our dialog toward dark places.”
“It’s not healthy, it hasn’t served us well. And we’re done with it on our company Basecamp account where the work happens. People can take the conversations with willing co-workers to Signal, Whatsapp, or even a personal Basecamp account, but it can’t happen where the work happens anymore,” he said.
Stroud also hopes to see legislative measures that would make an individual’s political affiliation a protected class under state or federal discrimination laws in order to counter discrimination or bullying based on a person’s political beliefs.
“Hopefully by the time of the election, it’ll become law. I think it will be tricky, because talking about politics is something that both sides need,” he said, adding that given the Democrat-controlled Congress, it is unlikely that such a law would pass.