6 Practical Resources for Anti-Racism in the Workplace

6 Practical Resources for Anti-Racism in the Workplace

Last week we looked at how remote work can help you build a more diverse team, including some of the challenges to realizing that goal. This week we are sharing five practical resources on anti-racism in the workplace for your remote team. One of the dangers of remote work is how quickly things can fall out of sight and out of mind. Use these resources to refresh your commitment to your diversity and inclusion programs, or to get your team thinking about their own experiences or behaviour.  

Getting Serious About Diversity and Inclusion  

Janet Stovall says that diversity and inclusion in the workplace need to have real numbers and accountability mechanisms attached. If you want a diverse team, set a goal and hold your HR team to it, including progressive discipline if they fail to meet those goals. Stovall goes on to say that inclusion, unlike diversity, isn’t a numbers game. It’s the result of meeting those diversity goals and living up to the spirit of them: respecting diverse voices and not requiring that they assimilate. Be honest, set goals, and keep doing the work.  

Fostering Healthy Discussion  

Kira Hudson Banks says that beyond building a more diverse workplace, managers must work to create a more inclusive one by learning to foster healthy discussion about race. Inclusion is the slow work that comes after you’ve put better systems in place, of you and your colleagues learning to accept criticism and see conflict as an opportunity for improvement, rather than becoming defensive or giving up. She gives three steps to achieving this: make inclusion a long-term investment; reframe conflict; and be proactive.

Learning About Privilege  

Life is full of privileges, special advantages or entitlements that have been conferred on us for both earned and unearned reasons. Some of the most insidious forms of privilege include unequal access to education and extracurricular opportunities. The Muse looked at 50 ways that privilege manifests in the workplace, from opportunity gaps to subtle discrimination, to enjoying the support of colleagues. Because so many privileges are invisible when we’re enjoying them, lists like these can be helpful in you and your team members learning to see issues from alternative perspectives.  

Understanding Bias  

We’d all like to think that we’re rational decision-makers, but unfortunately, we are always influenced by unconscious biases. Confirmation bias is the tendency we all share to focus on or seek out information that confirms our assumptions or beliefs. In the workplace, confirmation drives subtle and not so subtle forms of discrimination, as managers find evidence to support their negative assumptions about workers. At the same time, affinity bias drives us to gravitate to people like us. Because these biases are unconscious, it’s difficult to see and accept when we’ve been wrong, especially when it comes to deep or emotional beliefs. The World Economic Forum says that unconscious bias training alone doesn’t work. To commit to fostering anti-racism in the workplace, instead, focus on building processes and systems that force you to be deliberate and accountable in your decisions.  

Understanding the Impact On Women

Racialized women experience an additional level of discrimination that manifests in the workplace as a “pay gap within a pay gap” and even more barriers to employment. In Canada, racialized women make $0.55 for every dollar that white men do, thanks both to unequal wages and unequal opportunities. The pandemic has made the specific impact of racism on racialized women impossible to deny. Twice as many women left the workforce during the pandemic and have struggled to return; almost twice as many Latina women left the workforce than white women.

Addressing Microaggressions  

Microaggressions are one of the most common forms of discrimination in the workplace. They are everyday speech, behavioural and environmental issues and indignities that combine to create a hostile workplace for minorities. Microaggressions often fly under the radar of well-meaning managers, because they may not recognize them for what they are, see how the many small acts add up to a bigger picture, or they may be unknowingly participating. SHRM has put together a resource for recognizing and addressing microaggressions in the workplace, the most important of which is learning and applying your local employment and anti-discrimination laws.  

Understanding the Mental Health Impacts of Racism 

Racism has a tremendous impact on the mental health of racialized people. Sunshine Behavioural Health reports that Black Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental illness, 17% will develop a substance abuse disorder, and only 1/3 will receive the treatment that they need. In designing mental health benefits and an employee assistance plan, your team should be cognizant of the impact of racism both in the workplace and wider society, on the mental health of your team members.

Fostering genuine anti-racism in the workplace isn’t easy and can take years of work for businesses with an entrenched culture. But by taking it to step by step, balancing practical effort with a commitment to your goals, you can make your business a more equitable and honest space where all your team can thrive. 

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