Let’s talk about Diversity and Inclusion or more specifically Race and Inclusion.
Uncertain you want to read on?
To tackle any issue, whether that be #Disability, #Religion, #Race, etc. We need to educate ourselves and discuss these matters, it’s easy to ignore or to say it doesn’t affect me.
We have seen in the US the #GeorgeFloyd protests highlighting social, political and institutional racism against black people. Organisations within the UK such as #Blacklivesmatter and #amnestyinternational are standing up against racism, and us in the UK need to do more to ensure a level playing field for the #BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) community.
We have seen how the #BAME community has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 (BBC News Article & Report from Public Health England). Now, it is a complex matter. The report fell short of answering directly why there is a disproportionate impact. However, it is widely acknowledged poverty, access to information the type job you do have a large impact, and we know racial health inequalities exist. The protests in the US and UK mark a wider underlying issue we have in society that has been skirted over and not got to the root cause.
Let me give you an example of the #GeorgeFloyd case. The former Minneapolis police Chief Janee Harteau explained she had difficulty of disciplining and terminating police officers for misconduct as the unions and arbitrators would overturn decisions and re-hire these officers. On the surface, it looks like they have the right policies and procedures to deal with racial misconduct which majority of organisation have. The root cause is the people in power who influence how systems work; manipulate processes for their own gain and to protect themselves.
Legislation can protect individuals and guide businesses to make sure they are doing the right thing; however, they are only as good as the humans behind it to enact and uphold it.
Businesses and its leaders right now have an important part to play, in engaging in conversation, listening to their employees, ensuring policies and procedures are right but more importantly the organisations’ values and culture are fit for purpose.
How do your employees feel about what is happening? As leaders, it is important to have the discussion, no matter how uncomfortable it is. You can feel powerless to fix the issues raised or even find it difficult to find where to begin. The most important thing you can do is listen and inform yourself. If you don’t know where to start here are some tips to start the discussion with your family, friends and employees.
- Ask how they feel about what they have seen on the news about #GeorgeFloyd or the UK protests.
- Open up and explain how you feel about it.
- Has anyone they know or have they suffered from racism?
- How can I (you as a leader) help?
Holding an open and honest exchange session with your workforce can and will enlighten you to matters you would never have expected. Give you new perspective and a glimpse into how individuals feel. Make sure everyone is involved.
This can be a difficult discussion, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it. Be brave.
Engage with your workforce.
I would be interested in understanding what help business leaders need to support their people through this time? Share your experience and I am sure people can learn from each other.
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