We Need to Be Having Conversations About Race in the Workplace

In recent years, the global pandemic, civil unrest, and political and economic upheaval have made people feel divided and uncertain, possibly more so than ever before. So, having ongoing conversations that cultivate multi-cultural tolerance and mutual understanding is increasingly important – in society and at work.

Seek First to Understand

When trying to build relationships or grasp another person’s viewpoint, it’s essential to put yourself in their shoes and strive to truly understand them. Progress, collaboration, teamwork and innovation are impossible otherwise.

  • At work, it doesn’t matter whether you’re the CEO or a brand new entry-level employee: You cannot fully see or acknowledge the experiences that marginalized coworkers or their communities face until you hear their personal stories. Then, you can use this information to help affect change for the better.
  • Put your best active listening skills to use. Keep an open mind as you get to know their background, history and perspective.

The best ways to make this happen may include taking the time to learn more about your coworkers’ nationalities, ethnicities, customs and practices and/or getting involved in diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) committees and other initiatives at your company. If you’re a business or HR leader, proactively research and develop related company-wide initiatives if they don’t already exist.

Embed Understanding Into Your Company Culture

Conversations about race need to happen every day – not only in planned environments, such as DEI workshops – though these are a great start – but as part of an organization’s MO and daily culture. To facilitate meaningful change in this regard, business leaders need to initiate these dialogues and ensure that everyone feels comfortable participating in them.

  • Remember, you may think you’re self-aware and ahead of the curve, but a single conversation can make you realize just how much you don’t know. Call it an “aha moment” or a light bulb of understanding switching on in your brain … what’s really important is that you’ve experienced it, it can change you, and in turn, you can help change others.

The topics and stories you hear may not always be comfortable or pleasant.

  • Leaders: Start with a willingness to hear various stories, and encourage feedback.
  • Participants: Keep listening and learning, and speak when it’s your turn to do so.
  • Everyone: Be willing to look in the mirror and consider whether you could do even more. If you’re in the majority demographic in your workplace, acknowledge that you have an inherent advantage. Be willing to face uncomfortable truths, every day if necessary, to begin to help make things right.

For more resources and guidance on leading DEI conversations and initiatives at your company, contact Accurate Staffing Consultants, Inc., today. We can help you develop the team and culture you need to position your business for success as the world and with it, our global attitude toward tolerance and mutual growth, change for the better.

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