The last three months have been a turning point in not only the workplace but throughout the world. Racial discrimination is a global issue that has been an ongoing and commonly ignored problem for a very long time.So before you start on making your workplace a more inclusive space, it’s probably a great idea to think critically about yourself. Have you benefited from your own racial identity or privilege in some way at work? Have you provided BIPOC with an outlet for them to talk to someone? What changes are you making in the workplace for BIPOC to have a voice or be recognized?
The first step is to acknowledge the injustices currently present and express your commitment to doing better. Companies and employees can do this by initiating productive and respectful discussions, forming employee resource groups, and creating channels where employees feel safe speaking up about racial issues. Systemic change can only happen when all parts of the system change with it.
Here are four ways companies and employers need to take in order to be anti-racist
Employers can spread awareness by providing resources to educate individuals about the culture of racism. Most individuals are unaware of racial injustice and comments they make towards their BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) colleagues. This is where you need to educate yourself on how you should act or treat a BIPOC in the workplace because they shouldn’t feel uncomfortable where they work.
There are so many books, articles, podcasts, and videos that can help you understand the issue of racism and how we can fix it as a society. Be open to reading books that may make you uncomfortable and have an open mind to receive it. You want a better workplace for your employers to feel safe, then make the effort to educate yourself.
Being an ally is about helping encourage allyship in other people. Spread the knowledge you learn from your readings by sharing book recommendations each month for your employees to read. Come up with ways to dismantle racist bias in the workplace. Demonstrate to all your employees that your company values ethical, equitable behavior.
Receive Constructive Criticism/Feedback
Let your company know that you will not tolerate any level of racism or discrimination in your workplace. Publishing a statement on the company website is a way to show support for the movement but actually mean it. Most companies are showing they are for the movement by actually hiring people of color and some are doing performative activism to be like everybody else.
Acknowledge that you are really there for your employees if they ever need to talk. Be open to honest feedback. In an effort to solicit honest feedback, companies can provide a platform to participate where you can create an anonymous submission form. This form can be used to share experiences that have made your employees feel discriminated against in the workplace. These ideas can go into your company policies as a way to implement feedback.
If you are not a person of color, don’t try to pretend to understand what it is like for us. All you can do is ask how you can help, listen, and be willing to learn how to be a better ally. If you feel comfortable doing so, ask a colleague you can trust, regardless of their race, to give you real feedback about ways you can be a better coworker to colleagues of color. Gathering feedback can illuminate the things you don’t know and those you might need to learn more about.
Create Safe Spaces
Hiring people of color is just one step in making sure your workplace is taking steps toward enhancing its racial diversity. The next step is making sure those people feel safe coming to work each day. Give them space to talk to someone if they are having problems at work. It is important to create a space where people feel safe to have honest conversations where nobody feels singled out or different.
Take your employee of color seriously when she or he expresses that someone on their team really doesn’t know how to hold back on the microaggressions. If someone says you used a micro aggression, listen to them, and try not to be defensive about what you said. Apologize and realize that you were wrong and try to move on from it.
Hire or Assign someone in your company that your employees trust to handle the problems a person of color may have or face while in the workplace. Require training on unconscious bias for all your employees. Employees need to feel secure at work and know that you care for their well-being.
Recruiting & Hiring Efforts
The hiring process is just one of many ways employers can help being an anti-racist. Connect with more diverse candidate pools and partnering with community organizations dedicated to the professional development of BIPOC. Be sure to examine your hiring practices and investigate blind hiring methods where ethnic and gender signifiers are omitted from resumes.
You can train interviewers to erase potential bias. Take action against racism by stepping up and actively supporting your BIPOC colleague. Companies talking about diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace means nothing when there’s no action behind it. They can recognize their unconscious bias and prioritize creating a more diversified workplace. Make your employees complete a diversity, equity, and inclusion training before starting in your company. Make it a requirement for all employees, and repeat it regularly. Having a genuinely inclusive workplace will improve your ability to recruit a team with diverse talents and perspectives.