I have been disturbed over the many years of inhumanities and racism and have tried my best to learn about the issues and influence change with talent processes in the companies I have worked. Now as most humans around the world, I find myself more horrified and heartbroken with the violent death of George Floyd and encouraged by the protests against racism and inequality. There is so much outpouring of pain that many people are witnessing for the first time, and starting to understand why, and what can they do about it. As privileged leaders, we can influence and make changes that are long overdue. How do we start?
Many leaders are evaluating their behaviors and approach – if they aren’t, they should be. Here is your call to action: Are you a listening leader? Do you get it, do you understand what your black employees are experiencing when they see another victim of racism? We all have biases, and these biases show up in our thoughts and actions and show up with unintended consequences for our colleagues, our direct reports, and in our decisions. Do you know yours? What can you do about those bias – Learn more about your own biases by identifying them with Harvard Implicit Bias (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html). Additional resources for leaders to implement positive change: Catalyst (www.catalyst.org), review Joe Gerstrandt’s website and sign up for his newsletter (https://www.joegerstandt.com/), Vernā Meyers (https://learning.vernamyers.com/). Speak to your black and brown colleagues who are willing to guide you - ask questions and listen. Take note that those colleagues are not responsible for teaching you, they are angry and weary from not being listened to – you are responsible for learning.
My personal commitment: I acknowledge a call to action. I’m a white British immigrant to the US, and because the color of my skin, my accent and my native language I was not the target of the racism that Latin American or African immigrants experienced. I recommit to use my privilege to step up. I will be Intentionally Inclusive (Joe Gerstandt), and purposefully practice inclusion with my clients. I commit to always ask “What else should I be doing to attract, engage, retain diverse talent? Am I being an inclusive leader who ensures that my whole team is able to speak up and be heard? Am I listening, and asking the right questions, and setting the environment for people to be heard? Am I looking for talent inclusively? Why not, and what am I going to do about it? Do I have an inclusive talent pool that is representative of the full workforce and the labor pool? Why doesn’t it – what in my talent systems is holding people back and what am I going to do about it? Are my leaders ready to take on these challenges, and how can I recognize those who are, and hold those accountable who are not?
There is so much work to do and it seems overwhelming to address it, but I know that each leader can make a difference if they learn and advance with some first steps. I am committed to continue this journey.