Although racial diversity has increased in the workforce, co-workers experience limited contact with each other outside the work environment and remain racially segregated in their friendship patterns. Results from a 2016 study conducted with colleagues at UMass Medical School, underscored a 2013 Reuters poll that found that white Americans are far less likely to have friends of another race than non-white Americans. We also found that Americans’ social networks are primarily comprised of people from their same racial or ethnic background and that most of the cross-racial friendships that do exist lack the capacity to withstand the intensity of deep and honest conversations such as the ones provoked by the current American presidential campaign.
Sadly, most of us aren’t. The findings match what we have experienced—contemporary race relations reflect progress as well as polarization.
Why are cross-racial friendships important?
The competencies necessary to navigate our increasingly multicultural, global society are not successfully or fully learned in organizations, classrooms or workshops. Because of the possibilities that cross-racial friendships hold for individual and societal benefit, it is imperative that we continue to examine how barriers to establishing such friendships can be removed and how cross racial friendships can be nurtured. Take five minutes to complete this survey and let’s continue the conversation. There is so much to learn from one another.
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