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Conversations You Should Be Having in Your Workplace About Race

It’s clear that 2020 has been a year of change around the globe. In the midst of a pandemic, the United States, specifically, is facing a cultural movement. The deaths of Black individuals like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have sparked not just discussions across the country about changes that need to be […]

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It’s clear that 2020 has been a year of change around the globe. In the midst of a pandemic, the United States, specifically, is facing a cultural movement. The deaths of Black individuals like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have sparked not just discussions across the country about changes that need to be implemented on federal, local, and personal levels. 

As a result, many corporations and small businesses alike need to look internally to determine what to do. 

In the wake of Floyd’s death, many businesses stood in solidarity by posting Black Lives Matter content on social media or by making statements. But many people are calling for policy changes

You don’t have to have all of the right answers for your business. But you do need to be willing to listen and to implement changes that promote inclusivity and racial equality in the workplace. That starts with having important conversations, and developing a diversity plan for your business that includes compiling data, creating a strategy, implementing that strategy, and continuously adjusting and adapting as needed. 

Discussing Diversity

In order to develop a more diverse workplace, the concept needs to be a topic of conversation. Diversity is important in every industry. Having a plan in place to encourage diversity in your company should be a top priority. Promoting diversity creates an environment of inclusion and sustainability. 

Unfortunately, far too many people from different races or backgrounds still face discrimination in the workplace. Some may not even get hired or recruited based on their skin color, orientation, or religious beliefs. While there are clear laws against such practices, they still occur. It’s up to individual businesses to encourage diversity and make it the norm with a strategic plan in place. 

To that end, your workplace diversity plan should include: 

  • Evaluating both recruiting and retention strategies for BIPOC
  • Continuously evaluating and making advances toward diversity efforts
  • Developing relationships with programs that encourage diversity
  • Creating development and educational programs for leaders in your company to focus on inclusivity

Conversations aren’t enough, of course. Take a look at your daily practices. Review your employee handbook. It should include, in the very beginning, your statement on equal opportunities. It should also include your workplace policies and code of conduct with a specific anti-harassment and anti-discrimination section. You can find more information as well as an employee handbook template here, that can help you to build better policies from the ground up. 

If you’re struggling with how to update your policies, it can be beneficial to work with an outside POC-led firm. They can help you to discuss recruiting, the culture of your company, and how to make sure your BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) employees are treated equally. It’s much easier to learn from businesses that already have an inclusive culture if it’s something your company has been struggling with for years. 

Backing BIPOC Employees

Working directly with those who can help you to implement change shows that your business takes equality and discrimination seriously. Start by supporting and working with other Black-owned businesses in your community or on a national level. What are they doing to promote equality? What are some of their policies that you can implement in your own business? 

Talk to Black business owners or POC in your own workplace to determine what a more inclusive work culture should look like. In some cases, it could be educating your entire staff about the connection between the Civil Rights movement and self-care. This education can lead to more concrete policies to promote less stress and a better work-life balance. In other cases, you might need to consider a complete overhaul of your policies in order to make sure all employees are treated equally on every level. You may not think your current Black employees face discrimination. But showing that you’re taking it seriously in your place of business can go a long way. 

It’s difficult to pinpoint what every company’s conversations should consist of. Some companies have already been more naturally-inclusive than others. Chances are, you know where your business stands. Talking about race in the workplace might be uncomfortable. But, it has become a necessity that many businesses have put off for far too long. 

Talking and stepping out of your business’s comfort zone will help to elicit change. As a result, industries across the globe might finally start to make a larger shift toward racial equality in the workplace. 

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