Is there a problem of racial inequality in the American workplace? Do organizations consciously or unconsciously and consistently violate their stated values? The answer is YES, absolutely.
When we began Culture-Rific, we committed to lead with this mission: We want YOU to have the best days of your life at work.
As leaders, we are advocates for the people we care about — ALL people at work. As white people, we have benefited from a system that unfairly and disproportionally disadvantages our black colleagues, employees, and friends. Corporate trainer Dana Brownlee makes it perfectly clear both why and how this is the case in her article for Forbes, “Dear White People: Here Are 5 Uncomfortable Truths Your Black Colleagues Need You to Know.”
Arguably, the bigger threat for racial justice in the workplace isn’t the rampant, overt racist who is more likely to be an obvious, easily detected “enemy”, but instead the more likable workplace “friend” who just chooses to look the other way, not get involved or rationalize inappropriate behavior or unjust systems or processes […].”
— Dana Brownlee
Black men and women and people of color are NOT having the best days of their lives at work. We want to change this. We have some ideas and actions to take.
What are the useful, challenging practices of the thought leaders in the industry?
We have been following the words and actions of organizational consultants Korn Ferry. Their recent Zoom webinars and articles demonstrate how to have conversations that are real and provoke change.
How do your people practices measure up? What does your big data tell you?
Audit your systems for recruitment, hiring, and promotion for systemic bias. Find out if and how well you are living up to the promise of racial inclusion and a diverse workforce. When you look at the analytics from a different perspective you may start to see where and why there is unfairness in your organization. Using the data that you uncover, change the system. You may need to start over, like what Condé Nast is doing.
Mentorship, mentorship, mentorship.
As a leader, take on a mentee or set up a mentorship program. This creates a fair process for ALL employees to have the chance to develop their careers through job rotations, challenging assignments and projects, development positions, and promotions. But do it thoughtfully. Make sure the connections between mentor and mentee are correct in order to foster genuine care and connection. Keep in mind that mentorship is not one-directional- the benefits go upward and sideways, too.
Create a psychologically safe space.
A study by Google, described in this article for Inc. by Justin Bariso of EQ Applied, shows that the number one factor in successful teams is a space where employees feel safe to speak up without fear of retribution. Today that means not just in the daily operations of the company, but also against policies and practices that are exclusive.
Look at both the blatant and subtle ways your culture is communicating to your team. What do your company rituals and norms say about who you are and what you care about? What do your artifacts and art say? What are the pictures and the paperweights that sit on your desk? Make sure they line up with your consciously stated and lived values.
This is the sweet spot where the impact is found. The pause is really about the choices we make — a slowing down in order to stop unconscious bias and behavior. In the pause, we can see how bias shows up, how quickly it takes over, and just how impactful mindfulness is in arresting unconscious behavior.
Culture-Rific stands for inclusion at work. We see this is not happening, and we want to change this. Being a positive influence is a choice, and it is one that we consciously choose today and every day.
The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. It’s a journey that does not need to be walked alone — it cannot be walked alone.
We are with you and for you in partnership. Peace — Claire and Regina.