By Janice Gassam
Within the past week, a number of global companies have pledged their support for the Black community and the Black Lives Matter movement, and are denouncing racial injustices. While it is important for your company to not remain silent during these tumultuous times, it’s hard to distinguish performative allyship from authentic and genuine intentions that will lead to actual change. With every senseless killing of a Black person, there seems to be public outcry, pledges for change, then the public forgets and the cycle repeats. Many companies who have taken a stance against xenophobia have workplaces oozing with inequities and discrimination. But what happened to George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others as of late is the straw that will break America’s proverbial back. Pressure is being applied to corporations and many have been called out for public statements that don’t align with organizational culture. Below are five ways that your organization can put words into action and create long-lasting change.
1. Talk about race. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty around racial dialogue. Race is one of the most difficult topics for people to discuss. It’s like the hot pink elephant in the room that everyone sees but no one wants to admit that they see it. Many people feel as though they were raised to be colorblind, and they “don’t see race” and have convinced themselves that they are not one of the people that has contributed to systems of inequity. This colorblind viewpoint is extremely problematic. In order to address workplace inequities, there must be an acknowledgement of how things like white privilege, implicit bias and microaggressions contribute to exclusionary environments. We have to talk about race, how racism manifests and what it looks like, if we are ever to address and mitigate it. Discussions about race during inclusion and equity workshops are imperative.
2. Monthly inclusion events. While we are on the subject of workshops, no change will ever occur or be long-lasting if there aren’t consistent interventions. If sexual harassment training is required in order to meet compliance regulations, then inclusion training, and particularly racial equity education, should also be a mandatory piece of the organization’s fabric. Monthly workshops, panel discussions and open forums featuring subject matter experts are a great way to keep the diversity, equity and inclusion momentum going and allow for an open line of communication between employees and management.Most Popular In: Diversity & Inclusion
3. Address systemic issues. No amount of unconscious bias trainings will be impactful if organizational policies, procedures, and practices are not addressed. Assess organizational structures to ensure fairness and equity. Is there an explicit and objective process for employee promotion? Are projects and assignments being allocated equitably? Are all employees encouraged and given equal opportunities to contribute their ideas? How is pay determined? Conduct a pay audit to ensure employees are being paid fairly. There should be objective criteria to evaluate and assess employee performance. There should also be blind systems to ensure that qualified job candidates of different backgrounds have an equal chance of being selected for open roles.
4. Limit referral hiring. The similar-to-me effect postulates that people show preference for people who are similar to them. If a job candidate reminds you of your daughter, you may be more likely to hire them. If an employee reminds you of your younger self, you may be more lenient when evaluating their performance, which can lead to the halo effect. Recognizing how our unconscious biases can impact the hiring process can allow interventions to be implemented to lessen these biases. Many companies utilize a referral hiring system, but this can lead to an echo-chamber environment where groupthink becomes the norm. Make a concerted effort to limit referral hiring and ensure that there is a rubric with objective criteria when selecting job candidates.
Originally posted on Forbes