If you think that racism is no longer a big issue in the average American workplace, ask any employment attorney. You will soon get a very different perspective. If you haven’t experienced it first hand, it may be difficult to grasp. But then, all you need to do is talk to your BIPOC employees.
Preventing racism in the workplace should be a priority for every business owner. If this is not something you have addressed yet, it’s time to do so.
A Glassdoor survey revealed that 43% of American employees have witnessed or experienced racism within the workplace.
Now is the time to take a good look at your company and to send a message to your employees that is authentic to a business culture that builds racial equality.
How to Support Employees of Color
Creating a safe and respectful work environment is vital for your staff to prevent minorities from feeling marginalized. Here are some things that you can do to help support your BIPOC employees and make them feel safe in the workplace during 2020 and onwards.
- Encourage healthy discussion: You can encourage discussion about race in your workplace by maintaining regular dialogs about inclusion. This means providing ongoing training and seminars that promote racial equality and acceptance throughout your business strategy.
- Manage and diffuse conflict: Don’t hide your head in the sand when racial conflict arises in your workplace. Use your management and facilitation skills to listen and respond in a non-defensive way. If bullying or harassment is taking place, you will need to take the necessary disciplinary action.
- Racial bias training: If you don’t feel comfortable or qualified to run a course on racial bias training yourself, take advantage of one of the many free online resources. Examples include Purdue University’s Understanding Diversity and Inclusion, The University of Pennsylvania’s Optimizing Diversity on Teams, or eCornell’s Diversity and Inclusion Certification.
- Keep your door open: Always be there to listen when a BIPOC member of staff needs advice. Explore options for counseling and therapy and other resources to offer them when necessary. Encourage supervisors and HR leaders to have confidential discussions about inclusion in the workplace.
Understand the Difficulties BIPOC Face
Try not to overlook the fact that your company may not offer the right political climate or safety level for BIPOC to express their feelings. They may not feel safe talking about the daily challenges they face regarding diversity at work. If you feel that your company is not ready to discuss inclusion and racial equality, here are some things you can do:
- Connect with your feelings: It’s a good time to be introspective. Perhaps you are feeling personally triggered by the issue. If so, you may be unable to discern your company’s true status.
Talk to leadership or trusted colleagues. They can help you to root out any diversity issue within the company.
- Assess and educate: Review your current company policies. There may be room for improvement. Discuss your findings with your colleagues, and find the best solutions for applying principles of diversity to your company’s culture.
- Make things happen: Figure out ways to implement the best course of action to remove obstacles. This may mean eventually speaking to every member of your workforce. Draw up your plan and implement it as soon as possible.
- Talk to other HR leaders: Working with partners who are familiar with diversity issues can give you a head start. This can help you not only to support BIPOC but also your whole team.
Even if you are able to implement the above steps, you may still find pockets of resistance. Getting professional support can help to navigate through this and consolidate your team.
These are very challenging times for BIPOC and employers who are trying to ensure their employees feel safe at work. But remember, your voice and leadership experience are vital for making these changes. Your increasing attempts to increase your understanding of BIPOC issues and raise awareness will ultimately have positive effects on your business culture.