Educating, not tolerating, including, and elevating people can lead to ending racism in your workplace. If you want to take action against racial injustice — and not just post trending hashtags — then stay with me for a few minutes.
To start, let’s not use euphemisms like “diversity and inclusion.” Let’s call the problem what it is: racism. And one of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that racism is always intentional – it is not. Racism comes in the form of implicit bias. It is structural in nature, baked into government policies and workplace practices. It is found in microaggressions and social conditioning. And while righting all of these wrongs seems overwhelming, we can each make meaningful changes in a place we can control: our companies.
I’ve got some practical solutions to guide you.
Too many CEOs wash their hands of the responsibility, saying, “We don’t want to take a political stance and make people uncomfortable” or, “It’s not our place to speak about racial injustice.”
And I agree, in part. Companies should not speak about it. They should ACT. Words, diversity statements, and inclusion policies have zero impact on ending racism in the workplace unless specific actions are taken to follow them up.
Educate: Teach people about anti-racism, white privilege, and how we can be allies to our black and brown colleagues and leaders. Do this through literature, town halls, and webinars.
Don’t Tolerate: As leaders, we have a choice. We don’t have to tolerate this type of behavior in our organizations. If people are not behaving respectfully and kindly to others, then you need to hold them accountable. Like Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That sentiment has never been more fitting than right now.
Include: Look around at your colleagues and leadership team. Add some folks who don’t look, talk, act, or think like you. Take a peek into your hiring practices. Where are you seeking talent? What types of actions could your team take to have a more diverse pool of candidates? What steps can your company take to have affinity groups and greater support minorities? Ask employees to give feedback on how your workplace could be more inclusive.
Elevate: Make everyone step up their game. Encourage others to take action. Elevate the way you conduct meetings. Who does most of the speaking? What groups have very little say in the content or how it is curated? What about your customers? Are you demonstrating an inclusive support model for them? Consider bringing in more minority-owned business vendors to supply and power your company. Evaluate what it would look like to partner with minority-owned businesses strategically.
During these troublesome times, I have found these resources to be encouraging.
These last few weeks have been a dichotomy. We have witnessed our country be both fiercely divided and exceedingly united. And this turbulence has brought to the surface anger, sadness, heartache, confusion, and — finally — hope.
When we start taking action to end racism in the workplace, we turn nightmares into dreams, people turn back to love and away from hate. That is how our world will be a better place.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
— Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Lauren Williams, Founder & Principle Consultant
Lauren Williams utilizes her 20 years of expertise in the HR field to support companies by improving and enhancing their people skills/operations, maximizing their full potential. With care and passion, she focuses intently on the employee experience and how to leverage a solid community-based company culture that encourages organic employee engagement, retention, and empowerment.
Hi, I'm Lauren
I'm the founder and chief boss lady at Workplace Harmony. Welcome to New School HR!
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