How to Support Employees During the Anti-Racism Movement

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The world has looked different the last few weeks in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, not to mention the growing threat of coronavirus. Millions of people have been marching in America’s cities and abroad, demanding for justice, police reform, and an end to systemic racism. This movement is being referred to as the anti-racism movement. It’s inspiring and emotional, to see the nation come together to achieve a common goal after many months of uncertainty and turmoil.

As businesses gear up to reopen amidst this movement, decision makers should be thinking about how best to support their employees during this time, since we’re all on the same team. Below we’ve compiled a few suggestions. If we missed anything please let us know – we will update this post with suggestions as we receive them.

Make a Donation, Big or Small

Thousands of companies, large and small, have pledged donations to anti-racism organizations like the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, and the George Floyd Memorial Fund. Make a one-time donation to any or all of these. Let your employees know that these are the places you’re supporting during the anti-racism movement. Additionally, provide these links to your employees if they’re interested in donating as well. If you’re able, offer to match employee donations as well up to a certain amount. 

Start an In-House Discussion Group

Nothing will change unless we begin to talk about it. Consider starting an anti-racism book club or discussion group that meets regularly after office hours. Ideally, this should be moderated by a staff member of color. Encourage employees to partake in a constructive, open dialogue about what is going on in our world today. Some books to start with include White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward, or any of the titles on this list written by Vogue

Offer Mandatory Training

In line with a zero tolerance policy on discrimination and racism in the workplace, consider devoting a day to conducting unconscious bias training. This will help your employees be more intentional with the way they act around the office. Also, it will help staff members of color be much more comfortable. In addition to a training, schedule regular employee check-ins and seminars (monthly or quarterly) on anti-racism. To keep the conversation going, you can also provide further resources. These should be available in common areas throughout the office, like the kitchen or conference room. For more guidance on conducting effective unconscious bias training in the workplace, check out this article by Fast Company.

Implement a Corporate Diversity Initiative

Perhaps one of the most lasting and important things you can do is building a diversity initiative into your company’s core values system. Start by compiling data on what your workforce looks like. Next, evaluate your company’s commitment to inclusion based on insights gleaned from that. Once you’ve identified some concrete goals, hire a Diversity Coordinator on your staff to hold your board accountable. This shows your commitment to making a long-term positive difference.

America is having a lot of tough conversations right now and more than ever, it’s important for companies to support their employees and show their commitment to fostering an inclusive, safe environment. While practicing anti-racism is a constant, ongoing responsibility, following the above initiatives is a start. You’ll be showing your employees that you lead by example, and support them during this time.

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