Several leaders and organizations have spoken out against the injustices and violence committed towards the black community. This support is like a ray of sunlight cutting through a thick cloud, and it's only a first step! Challenge your organization to follow the talk with action. This may look like better written and enforced employee policies and better representation across all levels and groups in the organization.
If you have felt outside your element talking about these issues with your colleagues, imagine what it must feel like to be the "only" in the room! Let your employees know that they matter. Their opinions, their work, their well-being - they all matter. Imagine how much more effective and engaged your employees will be - not because they'll work harder, we already know they do, but because they might carry a lighter load at work.
Remember, SILENCE is ACTION!
Use your place in the hierarchy of privilege and power to speak up, investigate and act when the #AmyCoopers rear their heads. Can you imagine what it is like working for an "Amy" or better yet, having an "Amy" report to you as a black/person of color? Racism in the workplace is more commonly covert. Learn to observe and root it out, no matter how negligible it may seem. Remember, SILENCE is ACTION. Lead with curiosity, provide education and drive accountability.
The little things add up. Imagine I walked past you today, and lightly poked my index finger on your shoulder. I quickly apologize with a smile. No big deal right? Now imagine I poked you every day for a week. How are you feeling now? How about if I invited five friends to do the same? That is the additive effect of microaggressions at work.
So, step in! Don't leave the advocating to those lower in the hierarchy of privilege and power. Chances are they are likely to fall prey to the very thing they are advocating against. Also, realize that an "Amy" could simply be anyone one step higher than the other in the hierarchy of privilege or power. Notice how complex that quickly gets in your organization.
What type of employee experience does your leadership nurture?
Employees experience their company's values and culture mainly through their managers and leaders. What type of employee experience does your leadership nurture?
The work starts with us. The next time someone makes you uncomfortable, pause and reflect:
My hope is that this global unrest awakens true change for you and for me so that we can bring a little piece of heaven down here and break the cycle of oppression everywhere.
Let's get to work!
NZYMES blog provides coaching and leadership tips based on Solu's experiences and her convictions as at when she wrote them.