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4 Steps to Combatting Racial Injustice in Your Workplace - Finnegan Pierson - Blog

4 Steps to Combatting Racial Injustice in Your Workplace

Since police officers killed George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, civil unrest has gripped the United States. Communities try to find ways to move forward and create a more just society, while some people resist these attempts at progress. As a business owner, you have a duty to support your Black customers and workers now more than ever. Use the following guidelines to create a work environment that welcomes, celebrates and respects the African American community.

Consult Professionals

As you craft your company's response to the civil unrest around the country, consult experts to make sure that your actions are not accidentally racist or insensitive. Explore different companies to find the best CRM for small business and have diversity experts hold trainings at your office. When you meet with these professionals, give them your ideas for your company's next steps, and ask for their feedback. Never hesitate to edit one of your plans based on their opinions. 

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Listen to Your Employees

Before you can support your customers, you need to support your employees. Your first step in this process is to open the door to dialogue with them about issues of race. Do not approach individual employees, but rather hold a meeting or send an email in which you explain that you want to create an environment that supports the African American community. Tell your employees that you want to hear what their perspective on your current environment is and ask them to share any relevant experiences they have had that are important to them. Do not pressure anyone into talking in front of the entire company, and do not single out your employees of color without their consent. Instead, establish yourself as a listener who wants to learn from the experiences of people with different backgrounds. Once you have made this announcement, make sure you follow through by making time to listen to your employees when they share meaningful stories with you, even if those narratives criticize your leadership style. Focus on listening rather than critiquing their experiences or sharing your own perspective.

Listen to Your Customers

Once you have an idea of how your employees feel about racial issues, it's time to engage your customers. Send out a survey asking for their feedback on your company's response to racial injustice and how you can improve. Would they like you to hire more people of color or diversify the people who appear in your advertisements? Would they like you to donate a portion of your proceeds to Black Lives Matter or a similar organization? This feedback is harder to collect because your customers may not see the survey for a while, but it is vital to understanding your company's public image. 

Release a Formal Statement

A critical way to support your African American employees and customers right now is to release a formal statement condemning police brutality and other hate crimes motivated by racism. Avoid using rhetoric that belittles the African American experience or states that all lives matter, and if rioting has taken place in your town, do not address it in your statement.  Instead, state clearly that you and your company condemn the recent killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and that you are working to do your part to combat racial injustice. Before releasing this statement in an email to your employees, customers and investors and on your social media platforms, have your human resources team look it over. Doing so ensures that it is not poorly worded or unintentionally offensive. If employees approach you and tell you that they are upset about your statement, listen to their grievances and figure out how you can alter your words to better support your community.

In the aftermath of police killings, it's tempting to stay quiet to avoid offending anyone. However, you owe it to your African American employees and customers to take these steps and make a firm stand against racism and discrimination.

Publish Date: July 27, 2020 11:50 PM

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