Tokenism and whitewashing

what is it and start recognizing it

Tokenism and whitewashing? What is that and what does it mean? It is often already happening in your life and you do not even know about it. Interested to know more about it? Read on.


Tokenism is the practice of making only a symbolic effort to be inclusive to members of minority groups. In day to day life within companies, recruiting people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of racial or gender equality within a workplace or educational context is a great example. Yes, let that sink in. 


Is your employer doing it or any other company you know? A smaller example it: companies using visual content of minority groups within their marketing and communication expressions. Are the people in the expressions really employees? How many are working at the companies? Think about it and start asking questions if you really want to know.

Also consider the intention of the action and what is the actual valuable impact? For example: In the Netherlands, the Pride parade is very popular.

Every year, thousands of people celebrate “being yourself and loving yourself” specifically the LGTBQ+ community. Often, companies rent a boat in sponsorship to show their support and/ or sell specific items related to the pride flag. If that is only what they do, it is called tokenism. Do they do more?

White washing

Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound. Greenwashing is a play on the term “whitewashing,” which means using misleading information to gloss over bad and/ or misleading behavior.


Whitewashing can be found very often in diversity, inclusion, equality, and purpose. Especially at workplaces. It also affects personal and company health & wellness. 


Imagine being an employee of a company that said they are so diverse and inclusive and in reality, they are not. Or even worse, they recruit with this statement in their recruitment and employer branding and their company culture is not diverse & inclusive. Imagine accepting a job and the first month you find out is was all a lie? It happens more often than you can imagine. 

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