Actions Speak Louder Than Words

by Jul 1, 2020

I’m sure you’ve seen many organizations release a statement about their support of the #BLM movement. I’ve seen them all too. 

What I haven’t seen is a list of tangible action items these organizations will take that will actually support their employees and the #BLM movement.

Silence isn’t an option, but empty statements are even worse.

During our last mastermind group discussion, we broached the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Our focus was on how employers should address injustices, and the important role of leadership in creating a safe space for all employees. 

It was such a great discussion, I thought I’d share some of the action items we came up with as part of our own commitment to change.  

First, offer educational opportunities to your staff.

Marginalized groups are calling for an awakening. They’re asking for white individuals to recognize racial issues that have been present for years, but not acknowledged. Rather than asking these marginalized groups to educate the rest of us, encourage and even require employees to educate themselves.

It’s also vital that you provide the resources to do so. At Civility Partners we’ve been watching webinars on whiteness at work and allyship. We’re also holding an internal book club on White Fragility by Robin J. DiAngelo and plan to meet every other week to discuss a few chapters at a time. 

Here’s a list by Brain Lair Books of Anti-Racist reading shared by one of our mastermind group members.

LinkedIn Learning is also offering EIGHT of their courses for free, all focused around becoming a stronger ally and having inclusive conversations.

Second, address anti-blackness at a micro-level, not just the macro-level.

The #blacklivesmatter movement has made it clear that systemic injustices are a real problem in this nation and the world.

While your organization must take a deep dive into its processes, procedures and policies to ensure equitable treatment, it’s also vital to address it on the individual level. 

You might, for example, train your staff on recognizing and mitigating their own implicit bias, in addition to giving them the tools they need to be a better ally to their coworkers. Individuals need to understand the role their actions play in creating an inclusive work environment.

We are actually hosting a free webinar on July 23rd, titled Allyship Begins with Recognizing and Minimizing Implicit Bias. If you’re interested, you can register you and your team here at this link. 

Third, organizations have a lot of tough conversations coming their way – and leaders and other employees need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

We are innately programmed to believe that “sameness” is safe, but in order to support and advocate for marginalized groups, everyone will need to be open to perspectives and ideas that are different from our own norm.

Managers must build trust with their employees and encourage them to share how they are feeling. Emotions at work can be taboo and uncomfortable, but they need to be addressed in order to create a safe and open environment. Be aware, however, that some may choose not to share how they are feeling, and organizations offering a safe space for people of color to come together to share with each other may be the best option. 

Bottom line – your organization must do SOMETHING.  Sending an email out to customers and employees is a start, but until your organization implements strategies for addressing equity and systematic injustice, nothing will change. 

Saying something and doing nothing will make things much, much worse. All that does is perpetuate the never ending problem – that many people say they believe in equity but don’t do anything to make it a reality. 

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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