These times are unprecedented in our lifetime. They’re unexpected, uncertain, incredibly turbulent.
Panic seems the prevalent approach to each moment.
It’s a time when, if we take our eyes off the ball around racial justice,
racism is going to continue to flare up everywhere…
What Grade Would Your Organization Earn for Racial Inclusivity?
There are courageous people reaching out to other people – but who? Are we reaching out across races? Are the resources really being set up for all – or just for folks who already have a lot of access and privilege?
Are some groups afraid to come forward to help – or to ask for help? As we have learned, that happens even in high-performance teams and organizations. Is everyone’s voice being heard, considered – and valued?
Even more questions come to mind for me, like:
- Are those who have white-collar jobs the only ones given the opportunity to work from home?
- What is going to happen to the low income, hourly workers, with no sick days or paid time off?
- What will the impact be across race and class – and what’s going to be the long-term impact we’re not yet even thinking about?
“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.”
– Brené Brown
Are You Reaching Out to Help – Everyone?
Managers and supervisors are being required to reach out daily – whether it’s within the allowed social distancing area or electronically – to ask staff how they’re doing and how their work is going.
Most white managers feel more comfortable reaching out to whites and engaging in more in-depth emotional and supportive conversations. Folks of color tend to receive a brief, “Hey, how you doing? Great…did you get those 3 tasks done?”
That’s the kind of impersonal racist microaggressions that can happen every day when we’re face-to-face or in a virtual setting. It’s vital for senior leaders to reach all managers and ensure they’re supporting everyone, regardless of race, color, gender or ethnicity.
It’s how we’re responding now during these chaotic and turbulent times that paves the way for an inclusive future – not basing our caring for others on white privilege – but realizing EVERYONE has a voice in community collectivism.
Because of the racist attitudes many of us were raised in, let’s not assume from our white privilege that only white folks have all the answers. There is great strength in the differences between us.
Organizations Know the Value of Diversity in the Workplace
When your organization hires a racially diverse staff, you gain the benefit of a workforce that can adapt to changes in the marketplace. This can potentially help your business to remain competitive in an ever-changing global environment.
The American Sociological Association found that “companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity brought in nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than those with the lowest levels of racial diversity.”
Yet, even today, so few (95-97%) of most US companies do not even have people of color in leadership. Shouldn’t diversity and inclusivity be a part of the recipe we formulate NOW for a successful outcome from these chaotic times?
Now More Than Ever, A Call to All Leaders
In crisis, the vortex of fear and racism can seemingly spiral out of control.
A colleague related a phone call he received from a friend who didn’t know what to do: a friend with an Asian name was asked to leave and work from home. No one else was required to leave at that time.
Different racial groups are being targeted and accused of ‘starting’ the crisis. Fear and terror are fueling such racist behavior.
It seems that along with rising numbers of those affected by COVID-19, so too has racism and discrimination exploded exponentially.
Leaders must be supportive – to everyone. We MUST be patient with ourselves – and with ALL others.
Check in with staff. This is the time to let your authenticity shine. Take the time to ask how people are doing personally – not just with their work tasks.
Be aware that not only are folks scared about scarcities, but they’re scared about racial and other forms of oppression that have already increasingly shown up.
It seems like our progress towards inclusion has regressed. In times of profound change like this – where our world has been rocked – more folks are openly expressing racist attitudes & beliefs.
It doesn’t have to be that way. History has shown us time and again that times of crisis can bring about positive changes.
Out of Severe Adversity, There IS Opportunity
This could be a time of opportunity to bring people together, not only in your organization, but in your community.
Things are so volatile right now! Everyone is anxious. The only certainty we know is change.
At moments, I feel helpless and useless. I have to pull myself together. Each day I’ve had moments of anxiety and I’ve had to talk myself down.
I know others are experiencing the same feelings.
We have to start with ourselves, navigating WHY we are fueled to say things or reacting out of fight, flight, freeze, flounder – so we can show up more effectively in these very difficult times.
I want to help. I am offering my course, Navigating Difficult Situations, FREE during this global crisis, to all who are interested.
“Right now, when we’re hearing so much disturbing and hateful rhetoric, it is so important to remember that our diversity has been – and will always be – our greatest source of strength and pride here in the United States.”
– Michelle Obama
And another thing… In this atmosphere of unpredictable turmoil and uncertainty, the personal and organizational decisions we make can have long, lasting impact. Hear what the Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington had to say during our last engaging, inspiring conversation for change agents: Navigating These Turbulent, Unpredictable Times: Thoughts on Self-Care and Community Care.