“Let’s make this a parade, not a protest,” said Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, in Flint, Michigan. He put down his baton and helmet and joined protestors, making it a peaceful act of solidarity. The crowd, as seen here, started chanting, “Walk with Us.”
That is leadership. It’s in the moment, it unifies people, and it’s authentic. Sometimes it involves fear, and Chris Swanson may have felt fear, not knowing how the crowd would react. Nevertheless, it’s responding with the heart. Chris would not have been able to demonstrate such leadership if he didn’t care deeply about his community and ALL of its residents.
We must stop saying we are sorry, and then continue to live and work in the same way. Apologies are not enough and action is needed in our homes, our boardrooms, and our communities. If you, like me, want to create positive change, here are things you can do in the workplace right now to create a world where all employees are hired, rewarded, and respected, regardless of their ethnicity, gender preferences, or religion.
Create Ongoing Diversity Initiatives
The key word here is “ongoing.” Diversity isn’t about a two-hour program held once a year. It’s an ongoing process and a culture of inclusion and equity. Create a high-level diversity and inclusion task force, and be certain that senior members of the organization are committed to the task force and devoted to the cause. Provide both financial resources and workplace time. Enact what the task force recommends.
Review Hiring Practices
Create a process for reviewing applications that is race and gender blind. Have someone outside of the hiring process remove indicators of race and gender. (This may include the type of college the person attended, the fraternities to which they belonged, and sometimes their name and address.) Keep only their true credentials which would include GPA, previous work history, and letters of recommendation.
Initiate discussions of race during interviews. This doesn’t mean asking a candidate about their race and ethnicity (or making illegal assumptions about either). Ask questions that allow the candidate to share their opinion about racial issues such as, “What have your previous employers done to create an inclusive work environment? How did that shape your experience there?” And if you choose to ask questions such as these, be certain to ask them of all candidates, not just those who are nonwhite!
Don’t Think You Are Powerless!
All of us must find ways to talk about and create inclusivity, safety, and peace for all. Look at our role models here:
We all have a voice. Please tell me what you are doing in your community and in your workplace to respond to this national challenge. It will be inspiring!