Change of Color

Change of Color

  • Case
  • Teaching Notes
Abstract

This case describes the lives of Sammy and his daughter Rashonda, both biracial individuals living in the United States, and the unique ethical issues they faced in the workplace. Sammy graduated from college in the 1970s during a period of acute racial tensions, voting rights discrimination, and racism in the United States. Throughout this decade, African Americans experienced tremendous challenges securing a good job. Early in Sammy’s career, he faced the difficult choice of deciding whether to identify on his application form to the number one poultry farm in southeast United States—Chicken Coop Inc. (CCI)—that he was “white” or “black.” Checking off the “white” box guaranteed a lucrative job, while checking off the “black” box meant losing the job security for his family’s welfare. A few months into his new job, Sammy faced the discomfort of balancing family, work, and a keynote assignment due in part to how he represented his race to his boss, Stephen Moore. Three decades later Rashonda, Sammy’s daughter, is considering whether to accept a job offer that pays far less than the median salary for someone completing her MBA program and wonders whether this is due to her being biracial. Through completing this case, managers and students will appreciate the importance of incorporating a workplace policy that embraces racial diversity among employees, openness to divergent cultural heritage of applicants and jacks alike, and the ethical challenges biracial citizens face in their quest to secure employment.

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