Like many companies, you’re probably searching for ways to offer your employees diversity training courses, or at least some free cultural diversity training. We’ll discuss why right now is the time to start having conversations about race with your employees and fighting racism in your workplace. We’ll then go into some approaches you can use at the office for having constructive conversations about race and inclusion training.
Why have these conversations and diversity training courses now?
The cultural climate
You’re probably aware of the recent wave of racist episodes, but here’s a refresher. Since February and March, people of Asian heritage have been discriminated against because of COVID-19 concerns and misinformation. More recently, there have been some highly visible murders of unarmed black people. Of course, these murders are indicative of patterns that have been around for far too long.
It’s what your employees want
If your company has been thinking about corporate diversity training programs for a while, there’s no better time to have these conversations. With the rest of the world, your employees are probably crying out for change. Every day you support them in their workload as your reports and coworkers, but also just as fellow humans. Part of this support should now include building a safer space for constructive conversations about racism and additional diversity and inclusion trainings. It’s going to vastly improve your company’s culture and productivity. Happy and engaged employees are motivated to help their company reach its goals.
Actions Everyone Can Take Starting Today
- Approach with caution: Stop and evaluate if you have the kind of relationship with somebody that allows a conversation about race. This is especially true if there’s a supervisory element or some kind of power dynamic, proceed with caution. Start these conversations with people who you think are ready and will welcome them.
- Perpetuate micro-inequities (also called micro-aggressions). Microaggressions are subtle insults based on a racial prejudice. They can be both verbal and nonverbal. Often, they can seem harmless or even undetectable to others, especially as compared to physical violence or overtly racist conversations. Microaggressions are harmful though, especially as they add up over time. Listen for them and call them out when you see or hear them.
- Learn how to interrupt bias. When you hear people saying things that could be racist and harmful, diversity training courses suggest that you can take a few actions—or a combination of them. Offer a different perspective. Never laugh at jokes that could feel prejudice oriented. Ask a question, like ‘What do you mean by that?’ Lastly, you can let the speaker know that you felt uncomfortable with their words or actions.
- Be an upstander. Pay attention and speak up when somebody says or does something that feels wrong. Do your best to support and protect the victims of these actions. Don’t stand by silently. This can hurt the victim just as much as the initial violation.
Tools and skills for conversations about race and diversity training courses
Here are some approaches for conducting better diversity training courses and having constructive conversations about race at work.
- Be ok with the discomfort and be ok with knowing you have things to learn. More importantly, be ready to learn about racism and improve your own actions.
- Start the work yourself. Educate yourself first. How did we get to this human rights crisis? What can be done to make it better? What is being done currently? Try not to lean on people of color to educate you, particularly if they’re minorities in your workplace.
- Ask employees and coworkers for feedback, suggestions, and input on how to fight racism in your workplace.
- Set up diversity and inclusion workshops with experts.
- Be authentic. Take diversity training courses and casual conversations seriously. Deeply engage with people on these topics. Doing it solely for appearances will hurt more than help.
- Listen more than you speak. Pay attention to body language and let people finish their own sentences and thoughts. Make people really feel heard. Ask questions and show genuine interest.
- Be respectful. Remember that there is a vast history of pain and oppression linked to these topics. Be open to different perspectives. Be aware of emotions that may be evoked in these discussions and respond with support and an even keel.
Dive into our prior conversations about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Download the webinar recording here.
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