Breaking the Silence:
Achieving Racial Equity Through Inclusion Training
What is racial inequity?
Racial inequity is the socioeconomic disadvantages that specific groups of people experience because of their race. It takes many forms, from unintentional biases to intentional victimization. Racial inequity harms everyone. It distresses the individual on the receiving end and stifles the organization's ability to foster a safe, diverse, and inclusive community.
A workplace example could be a hiring manager making decisions based on racial stereotypes (e.g., the candidate's name or address) instead of qualifications. Decisions rooted in racial inequity remove a growth opportunity from the individual and put the organization at a disadvantage by depriving it of an employee better suited for the position.
Addressing racial inequity in the workplace starts with meaningful conversations that call people in... not push them way.
How to beat racism in the workplace?
The best way to beat racism in the workplace is to take accountability for mistakes and to educate others as needed. Be aware of your behaviors and misconceptions, and take responsibility for changing them. The longer you go without questioning the source of your biases, the harder it becomes to truly address them. Recognize any stereotypes shaping your worldview and work to overcome them. Question your own beliefs about race. Ask yourself if you feel a particular way about one race over another. Keep asking yourself questions until you fully understand your belief systems.
After working through your biases, you are responsible for using your knowledge to inform others. Some find it scary to correct this behavior in the workplace, but your voice is a powerful tool. Don’t let fear take it away from you! Diversity, equity and inclusion training teaches you how to navigate these conversations in the context of the workplace.
When you witness racial inequity in action, do not let it slide. Speak up against bias, injustice, and disrespectful behaviors you see, but be understanding and patient with others while discussing race-related issues. Often, it truly is ignorance and a lack of understanding that allow racial inequity to flourish. Address these issues, and do so with sensitivity. Create change—don’t point fingers. Advocate for racial equity, but remember that those who weaponize race are often easily disarmed by getting called out in the first place.
What are microaggressions?
Microaggressions are subtle, everyday interactions and behaviors communicating a bias toward another person or group. They can be intentional or unintentional. Sometimes they’re intended to be well-meaning. These short quips send derogatory or hostile racial messages and assumptions.
Microaggressions often take the form of stereotypes. Stereotypes are overgeneralized beliefs about a particular category of people. Generalizations assume that something is true of every individual within the group. Perpetuating racial stereotypes is disrespectful, unprofessional, and inappropriate. The good news is that there is no stand-out context in which removing these stereotypes is most beneficial. Removing these beliefs from the workplace is just as important as removing them from every other place in our lives. You can practice everywhere.
Understanding the impact of our words on others is a key component of cultural competency.
How to recognize and deal with microaggressions?
The key to the successful identification and handling of microaggressions in the workplace is education and understanding.
Recognize microaggressions through diversity training and careful judgment. Everyone within an organization has a part to play in working toward racial equity. Promptly address microaggressions when you witness them firsthand. These racist jabs or insults may seem like no big deal, but they build up over time and destroy workplace relationships.
Remember, there is a difference between calling someone out versus politely informing them. Address the perpetrator calmly and with respect. Always take the time to explain why a remark is inappropriate and unacceptable. In doing this, you are speaking out against racial inequity while educating others to prevent future offenses.
Leaders should handle microaggressions by listening to workplace concerns and addressing them accordingly. In any organization, every individual should be held equally accountable for their actions. Educate employees on racial inequity and how to speak out against it, and remember that diversity and inclusion training is an ideal resource.
Set your organization up for success by utilizing up-to-date diversity, equity, and inclusion training. By prioritizing inclusion as a workplace initiative and empowering your employees to embrace it, you’re creating a dynamic space where people can learn from each other. Doing so allows your employees and your organization to grow!