What is happening in the world and in people’s personal lives does not stop when they walk through the doors (or virtual doors) of work. Every single person is under a significant amount of stress and some are in distress, not only with the pandemic, but with the compounding impact of the social crisis that continues to unfold.
People are processing a lot at one time and are looking for outlets to be able to discuss their feelings, thoughts, and concerns. Employees are looking to their employers for leadership, guidance, and action items, particularly right now as it relates to what diversity, inclusion and understanding what the employer’s role is in managing bias and discrimination in the workplace. Even though the protests have subsided a bit, and the initial charge of the Black Lives Matter movement is not as prominent on social media as it was, does not mean employers should not address it with their teams.
For any organization to combat racism and discrimination in the workplace, the leaders of the organization need to self-assess and see how they are or aren’t leading by example and if they have created a work environment that truly values diversity and inclusion and combats racism. Otherwise, if they are leading conversations that aren’t aligned with their actions, it will create more angst for employee because they know it is different from reality.
The uncomfortable discussions need to be had for forward movement because that is when true change happens. With that, we recommend initiating racism and diversity conversations with your employees through open, honest communication. We understand that it may be uncomfortable or there may be some concerns with talking about sensitive topics in the workplace so here are some guidelines to follow:
Make discussions voluntary
Recognize and acknowledge that people have feelings around this topic
Provide opportunities for open discussions without judgement or repercussions
Set parameters around the conversation so people feel safe exploring various topics
Have a facilitator that is comfortable managing difficult conversations
Walk away with action items that employees can use to recognize differences and learn from them
Keep in mind that you are not being asked to have all the answers, simply to be a listening ear and provide a safe space for people to express their feelings. Once that initial conversation is had, determine the best next steps for your organization and what changes can be made internally to combat racism and discrimination. It may be reviewing internal policies, particularly biases in recruiting, hiring and promotion, assessing vendors as well as leadership and board roles to incorporate diversity and equitable inclusion.
The team at Employers Advantage LLC is here to support your small business and the employees by providing facilitation of the conversations. Please reach out to Employers Advantage LLC Client Relationship Manager Robert Williams at email@example.com to schedule a conversation or with any questions about how we can support your diversity efforts.