In the wake of recent events, African American employees and college graduates are taking a closer look at the companies they work for. Companies that take a public stand and decisive steps to improve racial awareness within their scope of influence will soon be sought after employers of choice. Companies who choose to stay silent or choose not to stand for diversity and equality in the workplace will see a dip in their retention and potentially their profit. According to Curtis Bunn (Bunn, 2019), “On average, 58 percent of blacks indicated they feel racism on their jobs, with the Midwest having the highest percentage at 79 percent and the Northeast the lowest at 44 percent.” and “Thirty-eight percent of black millennials say they are considering leaving their jobs to start their own company.”
“On average, 58 percent of blacks indicated they feel racism on their jobs, with the Midwest having the highest percentage at 79 percent and the Northeast the lowest at 44 percent.”Curtis Bunn, December 2019, “Blacks in corporate America still largely invisible, study finds.“
Below are the actions you should take to addressing racial awareness in your workplace.
1. Invest in an African American diversity & inclusion speaker. Though you may have a D&I team on hand, it is wiser to outsource a pro. By outsourcing a pro, hard truths and candid conversations may be conducted with little to low fear of reprisal. This is the time to speak openly and honestly in with your employees, even if the truth hurts. Choosing an African American speaker will lend an honest, and potentially raw, experience to the discussion. During this time anecdotal or theoretic discussions would not inappropriate.
2. Create, reinforce, and emphasize a whistleblower policy. It is important to create, enforce, and emphasize a whistle blower policy. This allows employees to safely speak up when acts of discrimination or blatant racism are brought to light. The policy will also reduce the occurrence of reprisal.
3. Define acceptable boundaries for peaceful protests and other acts of activism. It is important to openly encourage your employees to be active in their communities. By providing clear guidance of what your organization deems acceptable, you will allow your employees to participate in peaceful activism and keep their jobs. As part of your activism policy, include what absentee status peaceful activism falls, as well as specify if it will be included as volunteer hours. Remember, employees will peacefully participate if they choose too. Providing boundaries places, you in the position of supporter instead of advisory, resulting in brand and employee loyalty.
4. Provide managers and leaders with intensive racial sensitivity training. Institutional change starts with managers and leaders accepting responsibility for what no longer works and choosing to take actions to make the culture better. Providing intensive racial sensitivity training will not only open the doors for professional growth within your ranks but will result in long term improvements in diversity and inclusion.
Bunn, C. (2019, December 11). Blacks in corporate America still largely invisible, study finds. Retrieved from NBC News: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/blacks-corporate-america-still-largely-invisible-study-finds-n1098981
Questions of the Day
Is this commercially viable? Absolutely! According to Jana Turner, Principal, RETS Associates, ” If everyone on the team thinks the same way, there’s little room for innovation, which creates a stifling environment for inventing the next big thing.” (Janie Turner, 2020) In other words, diversity creates an environment for innovation to thrive, thus improving your bottom line.
Is this good for your brand? Yes! According to the University of Georgia, ” The combined buying power of blacks, Asian-Americans, and Native Americans is estimated to be $2.4 trillion, while the nation’s Hispanics command $1.5 trillion in spending power—larger than the GDP of Australia.” (University of Georgia, 2019) Unlike any time before, diversity within the civil rights movement is unignorable. Businesses who support diversity and act to make institutional improvements in terms of racial disparity will financially benefit while organizations who choose to resist will suffer.
What will happen if you don’t address this matter? If you don’t address this now, you are sending a message to you employees and customers that your organization is not concerned with them as people. Choosing to ignore their concerns may affect your bottom line.