3 Steps to Promote Anti-Racism in the Workplace
For too long, companies and corporations have avoided talking about systemic racism within their own workplaces. However, anti-racism requires the active process of identifying and challenging disproportionate opportunities and inequitable power distributions. These imbalances are usually maintained and perpetuated through the workplace’s organizational structures, practices, policies, and attitudes.
Anti-racism aims to change the values, structures and behaviours that perpetuate systemic inequities. Business leaders must play a role in creating and implementing the meaningful and lasting changes their organizations and communities need. Promoting anti-racism practices in the workplace is an active way of transforming it. Now is the time to deeply reflect, examine the practices within your organization, speak up and show up for your employees.
Focus on Education & Activism in the Workplace
Companies need to act on their responsibility to educate their employees about the pervasiveness of racism within their workplace. Learning, listening, and creating community collaboratively are all essential elements in developing new policies and procedures. Anti-racism practices need to be at the forefront of human resources management training to eliminate bias in recruiting, performance assessments, promotions, and compensation.
Simultaneously, all employees should, on an ongoing basis, implement these practices and act against systemic racism in their workplace. To have an anti-racist workplace, it must be recognized that it is not the responsibility of leadership, senior management, or HR alone, but rather, every single person’s responsibility to implement and maintain on a daily basis.
Join or Create an Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee
As a leader, now is the time to speak out and stand up to racism in your organization. Work with internal equity, diversity & inclusion committees to promote anti-racism as a core value. If your company has not as yet developed a committee, create one. By staying silent, you can perpetuate the acts of racism being experienced by racialized employees. Approach this topic respectfully and be quick to apologize with a commitment to follow-through. Inform upper management of the steps that must be implemented to root out racism at your workplace. Assess the makeup of your organization at all levels: ethnicity, race and gender being some of the primary factors that influence inequity.
Consider executing an Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Survey to collect demographic data as well as the overall sentiment towards EDI within your workplace. Invest in training resources that will effectively teach all employees how to counter racist behaviour, including unconscious biases and microaggressions.
Encourage Conversation & Promote Genuine Safe Spaces
Prioritize the development of an Employee Resource Group (ERG) to support racialized employees while at work. Make time for the ERGs to meet virtually or in-person and encourage employees to raise issues about toxic culture, barriers to career growth and fears of retaliation. Promote safe spaces for employees to discuss issues they are facing. Encourage employees to take time off as needed for self-care and time to give back to their communities. Be flexible with your employees’ needs and advocate for them when they voice concerns.
It is important to not rely on racialized members of your workplace to help facilitate conversations with other staff. Create opportunities for all employees to gather and recognize that everyone has different levels of knowledge and experience with racism. Be prepared to have zero tolerance systems in place for racist behaviours. It may be helpful to navigate these complexities with a trained facilitator to help diffuse situations as they arise.
Creating anti-racist spaces where employees can feel safe should be every organization’s priority.
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