By Carmen Morris
As forceful as the voices have been around diversity and inclusion and the absence of race inequality from the diversity and inclusion agenda, the death of George Floyd made the world stand up and take note, in a way that had previously been unknown.
But how can the potential created by the vocalised discourse around race equality serve to prompt authenticity around the agenda? Is there a risk that the increased traction around racial equity will fade into oblivion, as the eyes and ears of the world navigate towards new and different concerns?
As we approach the year end, thoughts of new beginning come to mind. 2020 has been a particularly challenging year for all, dominated by stories of conflict around race equality that have permeated all aspects of social, political, and organizational discourse, around the globe.
Yet it has presented several opportunities. The death of George Floyd, in May, sparked a moment of global reflection that positioned race and race equality at the top of conversations, and will serve as a historical reference for future generations as a moment of global tonality around concerns of race and racial inequality.
As we reflect on the turbulent period that was 2020, it is hoped that organizational focus on race equality, and diversity and inclusion, is at the forefront of leadership considerations for the year ahead.
1. Momentum Is Key, But Not Too Fast
Planning for an inclusive organizational future means implementing robust strategies, and initiatives that will carry the momentum into the new year, and beyond. This requires the authenticity and commitment necessary to drive the vision for race equality forward. Involvement at leadership level is crucial to developing and executing strategies that will enhance the workplace experience for staff from Black and other marginalized groups.
Organizations must deliver programmes which are authentic and are not merely put in place to provide short term relief for employees, or to present a positive brand image. Remember, diversity and inclusion is a long term strategy, that will serve an organization well, if it is borne of authenticity. Ensure that actions to promote and embed racial equality are part and parcel of your overall organizational focus.
Delivering excellence in the race equality agenda takes time. Sure, there are quick wins, but it is important to remember that this is a journey, not a race. Consider building progress in a way that keeps the momentum going, but at the same time is not rushed in an effort to tick boxes quickly. It is more important to get this right, than to increase the number of initiatives hastily. Quality will reign supreme over quantity, in this regard.
2. It Is About Marginalized Employees
The race equality agenda is about delivering solutions for Black and Brown employees. It is not an opportunity for leadership to ‘cherry pick’ the areas that they feel most comfortable with, whilst avoiding the subjects that will deliver real impact for employees.
Gone are the days when leadership could get away with a host of promotional activities around Black History Month to tick the race equality inclusion box. The future of racial equality will be centred around real and authentic actions, that support structural changes necessary to drive true inclusion. The agenda is about enabling Black and Brown employees, not self interest.
The flurry of carefully crafted statements of support for the race equality agenda, espoused by leaders following the death of George Floyd, have in no way absolved them responsibility to actually do something about it. Performative allyship and rhetorical statements do not, and will never, win the day. Remember that whatever you do, will be closely watched by your employees, stakeholders and your customers.
Implement the initiatives that will enable Black and Brown employees on an equity based way. Open up access to training and development opportunities, and audit organizational processes to remove all forms of bias and micro-aggressive behaviours that discriminate against them, and stifle their career opportunities. It is about creating a level playing field, that gives Black and Brown employees the same level of opportunity that is afforded to white colleagues.
3. Inclusive Recruitment at Leadership Level
The fact that leadership teams are grossly under-represented in terms of diversity, is not news. Calls for an increase in leadership diversity have been made for decades. Scrutiny around homogeneous leadership is the subject of everyday news, employee concerns and public discourse.
It is time to ensure that recruitment initiatives begin to authentically support real change around racial inclusion at leadership levels. Whether you are recruiting internally, or use an external company to manage the function, you should be asking key questions around inclusion, and how to enable a racially inclusive environment, at all levels of the organization.
Originally posted on Forbes