For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have thrived by living in societies glued together by cooperation and kindness instead of exclusion and hatred. The human species is hardwired for social interaction and friendliness, a propensity that grows more important as economies become more complex and societies increasingly depend on shared knowledge.
BlueprintLittle, Brown & Company
Of course, you knew this. But now, you’d like to know how you can continue this enormous success story in your company – especially if you, like many other people these days, want to speak up about racism. Most people will agree that racism is unacceptable, but some instances of discrimination are subtle, or not obvious to everyone involved. Identifying and naming them is a crucial first step:
1. Accept That There May Be a Problem That Needs to Be Solved.
Many problems remain unsolved because we do not recognize them as problems – or prefer not to recognize them as problems. Here’s a little nudge to get started:
The Return of Racism?Foreign Affairs Read Summary
Everyday BiasRowman & Littlefield Read Summary
Subtle Acts of ExclusionBerrett-Koehler Publishers Read Summary
BiasedViking Read Summary
Black Faces in White PlacesAMACOM Read Summary
2. Bring That Problem to the Table
Some problems are known, but not discussed. Maybe you’re hoping they’ll go away on their own. Or you’re afraid to say the wrong thing. Or maybe you feel you’re not the right person to speak up. Many reasons can prevent you from dealing with racism and intolerance – especially in the workplace. But the elephant in the room will only grow bigger. Here’s how to start those crucial conversations:
We Can’t Talk About That at Work!Berrett-Koehler Publishers Read Summary
Women, Minorities, & Other Extraordinary PeopleGreenleaf Book Group Read Summary
Working in a Multicultural WorldUniversity of Toronto Press Read Summary
Crucial ConversationsMcGraw-Hill Education Read Summary
Conflict Across CulturesIntercultural Press Read Summary
Breaking the Silence HabitBerrett-Koehler Publishers Read Summary
Nonviolent CommunicationPuddledancer Press Read Summary
3. Solve the Problem
At this point you are already two steps ahead of most other people and companies these days. You have identified a problem and addressed it. Now it is a matter of changing the culture of the company for the long term, involving all stakeholders, so that hatred, exclusion, elitism – and, alas, even your cherished buddy system – will no longer play a role.
Quite honestly: You will never completely weed out biases, microaggressions and cultural conflicts. But you can implement a policy that doesn’t tolerate discrimination and a culture that encourages speaking up. You can increase awareness and educate people on diversity. All employees benefit from working at eye level, in a climate of acceptance and shared progress.
Driving racism out of the workplace and emphasizing diversity and inclusion isn’t just ethical, it also improves your competitiveness, innovative potential and profitability. The following strategies have proven successful:
How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost InnovationThe Boston Consulting Group Read Summary
World Class Diversity ManagementBerrett-Koehler Publishers Read Summary
Diversity in OrganizationsThomson South-Western Read Summary
The 85% NicheParamount Market Publishing Read Summary
The Inclusion DividendBibliomotion Read Summary
Change begins with individual self-inspection and increasing awareness. It takes hard work and concrete action. And yet, if more and more companies and organisations live up to inclusive values, politics and society will change. Let’s all contribute.
This article is part of getAbstract’s effort to raise awareness of the seriousness of racism in society. Here, you will find free resources on the topic that educate and offer strategies to change an untenable situation.