11

Background:

I have been interning in an Chinese multinational corporate through a internship program with my American School. My manager has been making sexist and racist remarks throughout the whole internship. He actively bins intern applicants that are too diverse or black. He recently showed pictures of himself in an KKK rally. He has a white man from the states. The HR of the company does not feel as progressed as the western ones.

Question:

Should I report this behaviour to my School who sends numerous of applicants to the company every year or would this have the potential to ruin my career ( he is well connected to the industries I want to get in to)? What would you guys do? It feels really bad morally speaking to let this go.

  • 2
    Are you working in China? Do his racist attitudes extend to Chinese people or just non-white Americans? What affect do you think reporting him to the school would have? – AffableAmbler Aug 15 '19 at 15:56
  • 1
    Interning and considering working in this area after graduation. I just want to stop the association my university has with this company - would feel sorry for the next intern who has to deal with his bs. He is racist towards Chinese in the way he thinks Chinese women own their bodies to white guys because they are the superior? He does make the female co-workers feel uncomfortable through his strong advances. The dude is pretty messed up. – Watchmen98 Aug 15 '19 at 16:04
  • Post the picture of him at the rally to your school's social media account. Ask them if they support these types of things publically. That'll get them to do something. – Dan Aug 15 '19 at 16:06
  • Before I answer, what part of China? I have lived there and done business there and the attitudes and options differ quite a bit from region to region. – Crosbonaught Aug 15 '19 at 16:26
  • 3
    You are an American student interning at a Chinese company where your boss is white (and a racist)? Do I have that right? Are you also white? – Monica Cellio Aug 15 '19 at 17:21
3

From all your interactions, do you have any factual evidence to demonstrate the racist / bigoted attitude of the said manager? I'm asking this because you mention only things like "recently showed pictures" (vs anything shared on official communication channels?), "has been making sexist and racist remarks" (vs anything written on emails / said in front of multiple people?), "make the female co-workers feel uncomfortable" (anyone complaining or just your observations?).

If the manager hasn't left a trail, the only thing you could demonstrably accuse him of would be racial discrimination against diversity candidates, which may or may not be a big deal for the HR depending on their progressive outlook. (Also, this discrimination is hard to prove - as he can give up other frivolous reasons for covering up). In this situation, leave an email with your university administration, and tell them of your experience. Let them advice you on how you should proceed ahead, and whether they would like to blacklist the organization at their end.

However, if he has left a trail for any of the above actions - like on an office chat, in an individual email, sharing the images over messaging apps or during a recorded meeting etc - you have struck gold. Take screenshots/attachments of these evidence and loop in the company HR. Keep your university administration informed as you want them to be kept aware of the situation at hand. Let the company handle an employee who is misbehaving with female employees, and is otherwise acting up wrongly every now and then.

In either case, I would suggest not to take on the person on your own. Given he is a manager, if he was a responsible one, he should have known how to keep his opinions to himself. You are right that he is a manager and you are just an intern, and if he really is as bigoted as you tell him to be, he might not hesitate from taking negative actions against you, such as giving you a negative feedback, blocking any chance of a pre-placement offer, or spreading lies about you to your university administration.

  • 1
    "Take screenshots/attachments of these evidence and loop in the company HR" I would be extremely cautious doing this in China. It might be that the HR still doesn't care much. If the manager is as important as it sounds for OP, this will only have a negative impact... I would take the screenshots to my university and let them advise from there. – Pierre44 Aug 20 '19 at 14:20
4

I find it interesting that this attitude is accepted in SZ. I have been there and found the people there more open minded than those of the city in which I lived (Xi'an). I lived and worked in China for about 5 years; so the below is from my experiences there as a foreigner.

That said, from what you have added to your comments about his advances to women, especially those who are not white. I would do the following, bearing in mind that racism is tolerated in most of China (as the Chinese culture and language itself is quite overt and racist, e.g. laowei, weiguoren (for anyone not Chinese in any country), etc.). My apologies if the pinyin is wrong I write Hanzi far better than I do pinyin now.

Not matter what you choose to do, feel free to tell him that this his openly-racist attitude makes you uncomfortable and you would like him to not do that around you.

First, I would consider who he is in the company. If he is simply a local manager that you can potentially avoid interaction with in the future. I would deal with this once, returning to the States and bring it up to HR there or casually when debriefing with a colleague (preferably someone who is on the same or higher rung on the corporate ladder as he).

If that is not possible, I would find a more "Western" HR professional in house and bring your concerns to them. It is possible that his local team doesn't understand what being a part of the KKK means and implies. Also, assuming you have a great relationship with the women his has been accosting encourage them to step up to HR as well. China does have rules (albeit more of a grey area, but rules nonetheless) about sexual harassment at work. A lot of foreigners don't realize that, and assume that they can talk to their female colleagues the same way they would their "friends" at the dimly lit KTV in the alley.

No matter what you do - tread carefully depending on what kind of company this is and what your future career goals are this can effect your future visa applications as after you go to close out your visa your employer will send a "note" as well to the PSB and it can taint your application process (either through delays or out-right denial). They have to close out their side of your visa, but there is a section for comments about you where they can write their "two-cents" which is normally left blank, but some situations (mine was one) is where they have to write in there. This is often done as a result of sensitive clients or security clearances.

  • 1
    I didn't downvote but I am very certain it was the fact you said bearing in mind that racism is tolerated in most of China, which you don't have proof of. Also It is possible that his local team doesn't understand what being a part of the KKK means Again, you don't have proof of this. tread carefully depending on what kind of company this is Would you want to work for a company with a KKK enthusiast? – KingDuken Aug 15 '19 at 18:35
  • 7
    King Duken, I am sorry that reality hurts your feeling but the fact that Chinese culture is overtly racist is immediately obvious to anyone who has ever interacted with it. It is just as obvious as the fact that in the USA racism is not tolerated in the corporate environment - to anyone who has ever spent any time in the USA. I was openly lectured by a Chinese anthropology professor that Slavic people are not as white as Germanic people. Trust me: racism is perfectly acceptable in China. If the OP starts making a big deal out of it, he might end up being a "Bái zuǒ" for all his efforts. – Smiling Shadow Aug 15 '19 at 19:23
  • 1
    @JCrosby Oops, you're right :) Sorry. (Yes I do suffer from slight dyslexia, actually so reading can be a little difficult for me.) I deleted my previous comment. – KingDuken Aug 15 '19 at 19:36
  • 1
    5 years and you still can't spell "laowai" correctly? You're a real "laowai". BTW, "laowai" and "waiguoren" doesn't mean anything negative. They simply mean "foreigner". – Allen Zhang Aug 15 '19 at 22:29
  • 3
    Glad to see this answer is not -4 now. As a Chinese national I can attest what is said here is practical advice for China. Racism in China is big. Those who come from a "more progressive" culture might not like or agree to the culture, but downvote should not be used as an "I disagree" button. – Billy.Bob Aug 16 '19 at 13:25
1

You can let your school's internship placement people know about this without formally "reporting" it.

Informally tell someone at your school of your observations. Mention that placement there might be uncomfortable for people who belong to skin-color or religious groups despised by US white supremacists. Then, say no more unless asked.

That way you potentially can help your fellow students, while leaving it to your school officials to figure out policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.