When an Arab-American working for a US bank heard that a colleague was buying a house, he went to Google Maps to check it out. Another colleague, noticing he was looking at satellite pictures, quipped: “What, are you selecting a target?”
The banker did not find it funny. A short while later he left the company and the industry, tired of being the butt of terrorist jokes and facile racial stereotypes by not-so-funny co-workers.
He is just one of an estimated 2m professionals, nearly 5 per cent of the US managerial cadre, who quit their jobs every year because they feel unfairly treated at work.
Their reasons for leaving are many and widely different, ranging from being bullied or being passed over for promotion, to having to endure unwelcome questions about their skin colour.
What is pushing these professionals out is not, by and large, overt racism and sexism but rather a series of more covert actions that end up undermining their trust and respect for their company and colleagues.
This yearly exodus is motivated by highly personal reasons but it has a powerful common effect: a brain drain from key parts of the US economy at a time when corporate America is struggling to recruit talent to compete with low-cost rivals from emerging markets.
New research to be published today by the Level Playing Field Institute, a San Francisco-based think-tank, puts the economic toll from professionals who say they left their jobs solely because of unfairness at $64bn (€47bn, £32bn) a year.
The survey, carried out on more than 1,700 people by an independent research consultancy in January, arrives at the figure by multiplying the average annual compensation of a US manager by the number of “corporate leavers”. (MORE)