When faced with workplace discrimination in the face of underrepresented groups, we as bystanders are afraid or do not know how to intervene. Don't be afraid, we can refer to different coping frameworks to turn us from bystanders into allies.

"My son's name is not a series of numbers."

McDonald's in Seremban, Malaysia, recently had a branch manager discriminate against employees with work permit numbers to refer to employees with disabilities. Dyslex, who did not go to work because his name was not written on the duty list, discovered that not only his brother, but also the branch used the work permit number to replace the name of the disabled employee group in the process of arguing with McDonald's.

Employees who are not in the group of people with disabilities can have their names on the duty list.

Alnwick's brother chose to stand up, spread the context of the matter on the social platform in front of the society, and worked with his father to defend his brother and his partner, and take his name back.

McDonald's Malaysia subsequently issued a statement saying that the move had seriously violated McDonald's "policy of diversity and inclusion" and that they would not tolerate it.

After the internal investigation to the apology with the family and the statement, the matter seems to have come to an end, but the journey to the real "communion", Malaysia, which has always prided itself on diversity, has just begun.

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As bystanders, you and I are actually very powerful in the face of discrimination

Photo | Photo by Nick Hillier on Unsplash

In addition to the fierce discussion on Facebook netizens, everyone tried to sort out the ins and outs of the matter, and there were also angry voices asking McDonald's to explain what measures they had done for underrepresented groups to avoid discrimination incidents in addition to issuing statements.

And one netizen threw out a question worth pondering: "Why has no one in the internal team stood up for them?"

Yeah, why do people keep looking in the eye, but they don't stand up for them?

McDonald's Diversity and Inclusion Policy is committed to shaping an inclusive workplace where everyone can grow regardless of gender or personal difference.

With corporate policy as support, why are people still afraid to stand up for their partners? And what should we do to dispel these fears, so that everyone can be each other's ally in the face of discrimination.

Psychologist Nicole Jacobs points out that bystanders are mostly scared or unsure of how to react, so seemingly unaddressed behavior continues to occur (Abrams, 2021).

Perhaps it is also because of the "bystander effect", because of the "dispersion of responsibility"—there are other bystanders around, "thinking" that others will assist, and the responsibility is not entirely on me, so I choose not to be silent (Latane & Darley, 1968).

Gender Force Encyclopedia

Responsibilities are decentralized

Diffusion of Responsibility

A social psychology phenomenon that refers to a certain matter, if a single individual is asked to complete a task alone, the sense of responsibility will be strong and will make a positive response. However, if a group is required to complete the task together, the sense of responsibility of each individual in the group will be weak, and they will often withdraw in the face of difficulties or responsibilities.

References: Wikipedia

But many times the intervention and voice of the bystander is very powerful.

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From bystander to ally: intervention training that belongs to you

Photo | Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash

Psychologists have proposed an understanding of the "bystander effect" – "Bystander Intervention" ( " ) , so that you and I who see injustice happen and know how to react ( Abrams, 2021 ) .

"Bystander intervention training" can be carried out at the corporate level, injecting a warm current into the corporate culture that everyone can speak out bravely, or it can be used as a self-training to make yourself a member of the ally.

And seeing the occurrence of something wrong, to bravely stand up and speak, there are some references in hand, and it is more comfortable at the moment of stepping out.

As bystanders, you and I can refer to different coping frameworks, such as Columbia University's Step UP! Training (Columbia Health, 2022):

  • Be aware of the injustices that are happening around you;
  • Interpret the situation as a problem that needs to be addressed;
  • Shoulder the responsibilities that you should assume at the moment when things happen;
  • Think hard about how to help each other;
  • Finally stand up bravely!

When you see something that needs to be changed, you must be brave enough to speak out, and then use your own strength to cause positive ripples.

Debra Bell, Vice President of Product Engineering at Micron Technology DRAM

Even if you are afraid, you can take a deep breath first.

We all have the time to become a majority group, let us use our strength and strengths, based on research results, to become allies of underrepresented groups.

Because we all have choices, we can all be each other's allyl.