Chances are you and your leadership team are thinking about how to improve your company’s diversity and inclusion efforts, now more than you have before. Given the current climate, even large and high-profile companies waver between statement and silence, and there isn’t one correct answer. Silence can be compliance, but it can also indicate that you’re not listening. Statement can indicate allyship, but it can also be perceived as opportunistic.
The most important thing you and your company can do right now is to provide support and information for leaders who are looking for information to share with managers and employees, support for employees, whether through employee resource groups (ERGs) or programs that work to eliminate both conscious and unconscious bias within your company and hiring practices.
Here, we’ll highlight five resources you and your team can use as you think about your long-term strategies in diversity and inclusion, as well as how you communicate and build relationships with all employees.
U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism (HBR, June 2020)
This article includes examples of action by companies like Best Buy and Citigroup, as well as a list of dos and don’ts for companies who want to be part of a meaningful change.
Citigroup CEO Mike Corbat acknowledged that many employees have experienced racism in their everyday lives in overt and subtle ways. “I want you to know that your colleagues and I will always stand with you,” he said in a memo to employees. “While I can try to empathize with what it must be like to be a black person in America, I haven’t walked in those shoes.”
What CEOs and Managers Should be Doing for Black Employees (CNN Business, June 2020)
Why a sense of urgency is important and how your company can take action to directly address racial inequalities in your industry and your company.
The very first step: “Acknowledge what is happening. Admit racism exists,” said Crystal Ashby, interim head of the Executive Leadership Council, which is made up of current and former senior black executives who aim to build an inclusive leadership pipeline in companies.
How Organizations Can Support the Mental Health of Black Employees (HBR, June 2020)
Few leaders have the skills and training to confront the trauma caused by racism.
Provide Black employees with that safe place and bring in a skilled expert in racial trauma to help them process what they are experiencing and feeling. Senior management may have mixed feelings about creating a separate space, as doing so is not inclusive. When faced with this argument, it is important to underscore that the issue is not inclusion, but racial trauma.
Recognizing that change starts at the executive level, more than 1,000 CEOs of the world’s leading companies and business organizations, are leveraging their individual and collective voices to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. There are many valuable resources here.
Is Your Company Actually Fighting Racism, or Just Talking About It? (HBR, June 2020)
Leaders must start by reckoning with their Black employees’ experiences at work. This means dealing with discomfort and being accountable.
If your organization takes a stand against racism, you must also articulate how progress will be tracked and communicated back company-wide. Otherwise, you look untrustworthy and disingenuous. There’s no need for shame or guilt if your results are not glowing or swift. What has been given years to root will not be unearthed overnight.
While we cannot solve society’s problems on our own, HR leaders can support your company’s diversity and inclusion efforts, as well as help with education and training that can eliminate bias and racism within your own workforce. Company leadership looks to HR for help whenever we face a crisis, as they have done recently during the pandemic. It’s important to be prepared with tools and resources that can support Black employees and your entire workforce, as well as ensure that your company is putting a high value on diversity and inclusion.
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