You Need to Support and Value Your Black Employees
To all of my black brothers and sisters, my heart goes out to you.
What we have endured and seen these past few months have been completely heinous and Godless. Not only are we as a racial group being impacted the most by COVID-19, but we are dealing with outright unjust behavior by law enforcement.
And guess what, we have still had to go to work the next morning. Business as usual, right? No, not at all.
It shouldn’t be “Business as usual.”
Regardless if you are back in the office or still working remotely, business should not be as usual for your black employees. You may not know this, but this racism outburst isn’t new. Some of your black employees may pretend like everything is okay, but they just dealt with a racist altercation on their way to work.
Some of your black employees may have dealt with racism in your office. You will never know because they wear a mask, not the mask they are required to wear due to COVID-19, but a mask to cover their frustrations, pain, and vexation.
But the real question is, have you checked in on your black employees?
Have you taken the time out to ask them how they are doing? How are they feeling about what is going on? Or are the questions: Have you responded to the customer yet? And will you make your deadline?
Now is not the time to go back to business as usual. It’s an excellent opportunity for the leaders in these corporations to step up and treat their black employees as people. They are not numbers, and they are not okay.
Check-in on your black employees, you won’t know what it will do or how much it will mean to them until you ask.
Empathy can go a long way.
If you aren’t imploring empathy towards your black employees, you are failing them. Not only them but all of your employees. Empathy has a direct impact on employees, engagement, productivity, and even loyalty.
Empathy is when you can feel what somebody else is feeling, although you may not have had their same experience. Can you be more empathetic? Can you block out time on your schedule to set up individual 1:1’s with your black employees and not discuss anything about work, but to give them the floor and listen to their concerns and feelings?
Empathy may be one of the most important things that are missing between your connection with your black employees. That’s if you want a connection.
Look through the lens of your black employees.
Believe it or not, this is what black people are asking others to do right now.
Have you taken the time out to try to understand what they are feeling? To be honest, that project, that meeting is not as crucial as your employee’s well-being.
Are your black employees expected to get right back to work as if nothing has happened to them and their culture?
Are you giving them peace of mind and understanding that they may not be up to working today or be bothered? There is nothing wrong with giving your employees options. What are you offering your black employees during this challenging time?
In these times, Mindfulness is key. As leaders, you should be aware of the current climate your black employees are in and consider that your black employees may not have the same joy the office has or the same smile that your other employees may have right now. Being mindful of this
could help communicate responsibly in light of the circumstances.
Could you offer extended support or help carry the load for your black employees?
When presented at the proper time, extending support to your black employees could be very beneficial. Is it hard to ask them, “Do you need support on this project? or “Do you need to take a day or two off?” Your black employees deserve a choice, and they deserve your support.
Silence is unacceptable
Currently, everything is taut, and focuses are heightened on the experiences of a black person in the workplace and their daily lives. As a leader, you should act as an ally for your black employees. If you see something unethical or it makes you feel uncomfortable, you must speak up and address the behavior taking place against your black employees.
Breaking silence can create change, a change that is much needed. Silence is showing others that what is happening is acceptable and tolerated. As a leader, I believe you have the responsibility to speak up and stand for your black employees.
Hire, support, and promote black professionals
Today, black professionals hold just 3.2% of executive and senior management positions in corporate America, and less than 1% of Fortune 500 CEO positions. This is unacceptable.
This cannot be blamed on there not being enough “qualified black professionals.” Unfortunately, racism and inequality are alive and well in the corporate world, but it’s time for a change.
Speaking out against racism and injustice falls on deaf ears when the company that is speaking does not prioritize hiring, supporting, and promoting black professionals. Are you walking out what you’re speaking out about?
Are you giving the same opportunity to your black employees that you give your white employees?
Now, more than ever, we need change. It shouldn’t be business as usual, but a change of equality and support.
Value your black employees; they deserve it just as much as the person next to them.