The murder of George Floyd has evoked thousands of people to protest across the world. As a business owner, this cultural uprising is a critical moment to reevaluate the diversity and inclusivity of your company. This is not only beneficial for business, but it is imperative to running an organization that operates in excellence. Public statements affirming the Black Lives Matter movement, while critical, lose their impact unless matched with an internal action plan that will prioritize anti-racism. Your employees, clients, and customers are likely watching to see what position your business will take on this very important social ill. To assist, we have compiled recommendations that can help lead your business to a more diverse and inclusive future.
Before you begin to implement any new initiative, reflect on your company’s current status of diversity and inclusivity. What is the cultural make-up of your core leadership? Do you have staff at all levels that reflect thoughtful and predetermined goals of diversity and inclusion? Who are the natural stakeholders within your business that can champion and create safe spaces for team members directly impacted by social injustices against Black people? Have employees come forward with information about discrimination in your workplace? Once you have evaluated where your company stands, you can begin to take action.
Giving and Economic Development
This is a deeply traumatic time for Black individuals across the globe. As an employer that desires to set the correct tone for inclusion and diversity, consider donating to foundations fighting for racial equality and/or partnering with Black-owned vendors to use your company’s financial privilege to benefit initiatives focused on social justice.
Where do you identify talent? How diverse is your professional network? If you have not previously focused on attracting diverse talent, consider partnering with Historically Black Universities and Colleges, as well as trade associations that support Black professionals when hiring.
Open Discussion and Training
During this time, many companies have been holding open discussions about race and discrimination to give employees a platform to voice their experiences, hurts, and grievances – often these dialogues are uncomfortable and emotional so it is important to note that the person who leads these conversations must be an experienced facilitator and have credibility.
If your leaders have not had diversity and inclusion training, consider hiring an outside consultant to lead this topic openly, honestly, and effectively.
Employee Affinity Groups
While training and education are crucial to building awareness of social injustice, an ongoing strategy is essential to create long-term change and promote ongoing allyship. Consider identifying affinity groups to continue these conversations on a regular basis. These ongoing committees represent a safe space for employees in marginalized groups to build community and provide constructive suggestions for corporate renewal. Non-Black employees who are committed to social justice and racial equality should be encouraged to attend these groups and provide support as powerful allies. When creating these groups, make sure to have a diverse array of personalities to guide the discussions. The goal is to make diversity and inclusion a safe conversation for all employees to examine.
People groups around the world have been galvanized to stand up for social justice and change. Employers of all sizes and industries have also responded by establishing new initiatives to help combat racism. For example, advertising software startup, Hudson MX rolled a PTO time-off plan specifically for employees desiring to engage in civic activities and also matched employee donations to organizations fighting social injustice.
Diversity and inclusion strategies are not just for large corporations to roll out, small businesses, who employ the majority of Americans, have just as important a role to play. As you thoughtfully consider your contribution to effecting change within your organization, remember to act with urgency. Once your plan is established, hold your company and its team accountable for effecting cultural change. Just as you set financial goals, diversity and inclusivity goals must be prioritized. Be transparent in your process and explicit in your strategy. Each one of us has a part to play in dismantling systemic racism against Black people.
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