5 Conversations To Get Your Workplace to Beyond a Hashtag and Doing the Real Work
It’s the start of a new week and while there is still an incredible amount of work to be done that will result in permanent change, many employers are feeling like we’ve done the hard work.
We sent an email, we donated money, we created space for the team to talk last week, we used the appropriate hashtag and shared on social media.
In short: We’re good, we’ve done the work. The reality is, though, the work has truly just begun.
In the same way, we personally have to get beyond temporarily using a hashtag, so do the companies we work for. Here are 5 suggested conversations to start at your organization, in order to ensure real change is happening internally. These are a starting point and by no means the only conversations you should have. The goal is to start somewhere and to not let an email be the only action that is taken.
Note: For full transparency, these are conversations that I’ll be having with my organization too this week but want to remind White Leaders and Colleagues: the burden should not fall to BIPOC on your teams. Take these suggestions and initiate these dialogues yourself, just being sure to not move from dialogue to solution without BIPOC voices involved.
- How are we planning to ask each person to “do the individual work”?(and yes, especially the Leadership team)?
This conversation is a great starting point to dig into now, especially if some level of action (an email, a post, etc.) was taken that acknowledges that change is needed. Some questions to start this conversation:
Will there be a course that everyone is required to take to start?
Continued conversations that will ask people to continuously address their own biases and actively work towards becoming anti-racist?
How are we making sure our internal team is doing the work of learning and reflecting on an on-going basis?
2. How are we continuously creating space (without penalty) for continued dialogue and not just last week?
Many of you may be returning to work this week where your organization is ready to get back to business as it was before and therefore think because space was made to discuss last week that it’s not continuously needed, which is not true.
Open up a conversation on how this will continue to happen and how will it be ensured that colleagues are not penalized in any way for attending or participating in those spaces?
3. If you already have spaces created, how are they being heard, valued, and engaged?
You may already have spaces created in your organization from Employee Resource Groups to internal DEI training and more, which is good.
If you do, have a conversation on how effective these spaces actually are. Were they created for lip service or are they actually being given the power to shift real change? Are the trainings changing behaviors and mindsets or just something to check the box?
Evaluate what’s established.
4. How are BIPOC voices being amplified all of the time and simultaneously without burdening them all of the time?
This is a big one especially if you work in an organization where there are very few BIPOC voices and now they are being given the burden of “ What should we do?” every time something related to racism is brought up.
Discuss strategies with BIPOC on how their voices will continuously be amplified and included in conversations from the very beginning without shifting all of the responsibility of taking action to their shoulders.
5. Which internal-policies, systems, or structures are we taking a look at first from an anti-racist lense?
You arguably can’t change everything in a day in your organization (noting that this comment is up for debate!) but you can begin to examine how the entire internal organization is built and operates to determine if its systems are upholding racist or anti-racist principles.
And if it’s the former, where is the organization committing to unpacking first?
Who will be involved in this process?
And what’s the timeline by which it will happen?