Although it seems that diversity and inclusion efforts have been made a priority by many organizations over the years, there is still work to be done to establish a truly inclusive workplace.
In light of the cries being heard around the world to put an end to racism and racial injustice, many brands and organizations have made statements of their solidarity with the black community. While the gesture is appreciated by many, they’ve also sparked conversations around what corporations actually do to support their black employees on a daily basis, and not just when the world is waiting for a statement. We asked black people in our community to share how they would like to see their employers do a better job of supporting them beyond social media posts. Although there was a wide range of responses, many of them echoed similar themes. Read on to learn how you can work to support black people and other people of colour in your corporate environment.
An overwhelming amount of feedback (from both black and white respondents from all career levels) said that step one was common sense: hire more black people. This doesn’t mean simply choosing more black people, but instead taking measures to ensure an equal playing field. One HR professional said that practices like presenting a diverse range of candidates for shortlists, and making recruiting staff go through training to become aware of their implicit biases, whether racial or otherwise, are some steps that companies can take to make sure that they’re giving more minorities an opportunity to work there.
Empower them to advance
Diversity doesn’t end at simply diversifying the people that you onboard, though. Many companies still struggle with retaining black employees because they feel that there is no room for advancement. A recent study shows that 19% of black professionals believed that “someone of their race/ethnicity could never achieve a top position” at their company. This number is likely because black people simply aren’t seeing people who look like them in positions of power. Although black people make up almost 13% of the US population, they make up only 0.8% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and only 3.2% of executive/ senior-level managers nationwide. “Companies need to spend time and energy to help black employees move vertically, not just laterally,” one of our community members said. “It’s not enough to make hires and fill a diversity quota.”
Address unconscious biases
Unconscious biases that go unchecked act as roadblocks on many organizations’ road to diversity and inclusion. Many of the respondents from our community stated that better training and work to address those biases would benefit not only black jobseekers, but also black employees who are often confronted by the daily microaggressions that manifest if implicit biases from their non-black coworkers are ignored for too long. This culture of confronting unconscious biases needs to be passed down from the top, and should be supported through structured training.
Hold yourself and your team accountable
Creating a culture of accountability as it pertains to racial sensitivity and diversity needs to be implemented from the executive level as well. Leaders need to recognize and lead by example. This means embracing diversity as a means to improve the company, and not just to look good from a corporate responsibility perspective.