We are living in such a surreal time, between dodging COVID-19, and all of the headline news of police brutality towards unarmed Black people. In response, companies across the nation have donated to many Black organizations, honoring Juneteenth as a paid holiday, and are finally taking accountability of the marginalization created right in their offices.
If there was any hope from this pandemic, it is for the nation to stop and be willing to empathize with a Black person’s experience in America, that has been occurring for centuries. People finally want to listen, unlearn, and recognize their privilege, whether big or small, to make a change with any power they have.
Companies can do better with inclusivity within their offices by holding their entire staff accountable for their actions. You should treat people of color as more than just a checkbox for diversity. Applications with names that seem too “ghetto,” or “foreign,” should not be tossed to the side because you don’t value their names, which is not their work ethic.
Racial microaggressions at the workplace
Racial microaggressions are the most common form of insulting behavior in the workplace; they are often overlooked and rarely addressed. Whether racial microaggressions are intentional or unintentional, they are unacceptable. It is essential to treat individuals that may have a different culture, language, or race than you with respect and value in the workplace.
Some specific examples include: Asking every Black woman about their hairstyles, asking to touch their hair, referring to BIPOC as “you people,” saying things like “you speak well for a Black/Latino/Asian person.” None of these should be accepted in any company. Also, we should not laugh at racist jokes or see them as harmless because that minimizes the emotional distress it causes to minority communities.
BIPOC shouldn’t be the last individuals to be considered for a raise or promotion to leadership positions. Racial microaggressions cause BIPOC individuals to suffer from many mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and poor self-esteem. It may also make them question the value of their ideas, and why their white peer’s complaints are more valid than theirs?
As a society, we need to call out microaggressions when we witness them. If you are White, please recognize your privilege, address your own biases and racism, and speak up for your Black colleagues that are often mistreated. Choosing to look the other way enables everyday racism. For you to be progressive, you have to recognize your entitlement and hold yourself and other colleagues accountable for their actions.
Reconstructing the values of the company
Companies with above-average diversity on their leadership teams have reported innovation revenue that is 19% higher than companies with below-average leadership diversity. When there are more diverse teams, companies are 70% more likely to gain the attention of a new market. When there isn’t diverse leadership, people of color are 24% less likely than straight White men to win endorsements for their ideas.
Companies worldwide with above-average diversity in their leadership teams have seen a bigger payoff from innovation and higher EBIT margins. Building diverse management teams allows companies to be socially aware of multi-racial perspectives, providing more inclusive products or services to a broader range of customers.
Small changes make a big difference
If you’re committed to change, you’re committed to being uncomfortable to make a difference. As entrepreneurs, hiring managers, HR teams, and employees that refer their friends for jobs, we have to acknowledge any power we have to give more opportunities to people of color.
Companies need to advertise their job openings on diverse job boards like Professional Diversity Network, Diversity Working, and Diversity Jobs. Advertise job openings in BIPOC’s targeted magazines, newspapers, podcasts, websites, etc. Create internships, scholarships, and grants for minority communities. Reach out to HBCUs and other minority organizations in colleges to offer your company’s internships and scholarships to those students.
Last but not least, update your company’s mission statement and values on your website to promote inclusivity in every department of your company. Real change requires all hands on deck, a lot of uncomfortable conversations, and lifting our workmates along the way to overcome systematic racism.
What steps have you take to create a more safe and inclusive workplace? How could you improve? Let us know in the comments!
This article originally published on GREY Journal.