As many employers begin to make a push to return to the office following the July 4 holiday, a number of Black Americans may not be in support of that move.
According to a new study from Future Forum, only 3% of white-collar, Black professionals want to return to the office full-time following the pandemic. According to mental health experts, trauma from civil unrest in the Summer of 2020 and fears of microaggressions post-pandemic have caused Black Americans to prioritize their mental health more than ever.
“Following the murder of George Floyd and the racial traumas of the last year with COVID-19, more Black Americans are choosing to prioritize their mental health,” said Veronda Bellamy, therapist, and owner of The Relevancy Factor. “Particularly in settings where there are fewer Black Americans, the return to work can signal anxiety,” she continued. “In this case, many are choosing to manage their anxiety – and their overall mental health – by opting for a hybrid return to work model or a full work-from-home plan that allows them to avoid those sticky situations.”
“Racial Trauma” is a form of race-based stress that affects Black people and people of color when they experience and witness dangerous events and perceived experiences of racial discrimination, per Talk Space. For many, racial trauma appears as belittling, condescension, and other race or ethnic-related threat that can lead to negatively impacting one’s mental health.
Future Forum, a research group formed by workplace collaboration software company Slack Technologies Inc., also noted that by contrast, 21% of white professionals want to go back to the office full-time. Data from the study shows that 53 percent of Black workers agree that they are “treated fairly at work” (vs. 74% of white workers). Additionally, just more than half (54%) of Black employees rate their sense of belonging at work “good or very good,” compared with 70% of white employees.
“The historic challenges that Blacks have long-faced in the workplace have come to a head,” adds Bellamy. “However, the new environment we’re in has caused new behaviors. Now there is a choice that Black Americans want to exercise to protect their mental health.”