For the first time in decades, our country is having real talk and real conversations around race. Both black and whites are speaking up about long-standing injustices, refusing to be silent or complacent any longer. However, acknowledgment, like so many companies have been doing through social media, while a powerful step, is only the first step forward. For those asking what they can do and ready to take the next steps forward, Carol Parker Walsh, JD, PhD, career strategist and professional brand expert, joined us to share three critical pieces of anti-racist work that can be done in the workplace.
Carol says we live in a capitalistic society, so in order to truly dismantle racism, black people will need economic and political capital to do so. That mean more is needed than just conversations, dialogues, forums and race discussion, the following action steps can truly start the dismantling of systemic racism:
- Access - Networking is powerful but it's substantially more useful when you have access to others in power positions that can impact or influence your career. Introduce black people to your networks, invite them in the room and to the table with other people of influence.
- Advocacy - Be an advocate for people of color in the workplace by educating yourself of cultural bias, institutionalized racism and system of oppression and how they've historically limited access in the workplace. In addition, when someone complains about a policy, a comment, or other actions in the workplace don't dismiss them as being overly sensitive or misunderstanding. We've come a long way with the #MeToo movement and giving a space for women of sexual abuse to be heard and believed, now we can do the same around racism.
- Activism - Organizations can be activist through their (1) policies, (2) pay, and (3) promotions. Change the rules to create better hiring policies, search and dismantle wage inequities and make room for promotions of black people into positions of authority and power. And then you do that, SUPPORT them to be successful in those positions.
Then rinse and repeat until it's no longer an effort but standard operating procedures.
As a word of caution, expect backlash. When those in power sense they may be losing any economic or political power the majority will fight and try to divert the conversation. They'll say things like you're playing favorites, not making decisions based on skills and abilities, or talk about the impact on clients. See these as the diversions they are.
Anti-racist work is hard, uncomfortable and requires change from the status quo. If you want to know what to do next, here's a good starting place.