As the world is experiencing an explosive pandemic of racism following the tragic death of George Floyd in the United States, many people and companies are looking for ways to support their black colleagues. Here are our 9 tips to support black colleagues:
1. Make a strong company statement
The leadership team of your organisation should make a strong, public statement to speak up against racism and show their commitment to proactively end racism. Employees should proactively push their leadership teams to be vocal about their statement against racism and agains discrimination at work. This is a corporate social responsibility and it will have a positive impact on communities and society if done in a correct way.
2. Donate to relevant charities
Donate money or time to causes that further educate and take action to end racism. Whether it is at the organisational level or at the individual level, everyone should donate what they can to support organisations that fight to end racism.
3. Proactively ask your black colleagues how they want to be supported
Practicing empathy and offering support to your black colleagues should be emphasised. If managers don't acknowledge the emotional impact on their colleagues and employees during an international crisis, they will not be prepared to address the implications that has for your company’s bottomline.
4. Speak up
Speak up, stand up, say something. Remaining silence in instances of racism is being complicit. Speaking up will help the company and society move towards equality.
5. Listen and learn
Listen and acknowledge your colleagues feelings. Don’t talk, focus on listening and learning without judgment. Listening and learning helps fostering workplace inclusion, creating an atmosphere where all employees belong, contribute, and can thrive. It requires deliberate and intentional action.
6. Actively hold your managers and colleagues accountable
Employees should hold their leadership team accountable for their actions. Employees should report any instances of racism regardless of how big or small they might seem.
7. Mentor black colleagues
Managers should be encouraged to identify talent within teams and to support them with the knowledge and opportunity to succeed. Managers should offer black mentees stretch assignment, glamour work, speak of them positively when they are not in the room, ask them what their career goals are. Becoming an ally to black colleagues is critical to respond to racism and discrimination in the workplace. Mentoring black colleagues enforces a behaviour of equity in the organisation, in working toward fair outcomes for black people by treating them in ways that address their unique barriers.
Employees and managers should proactively look for books, articles, podcasts to educate themselves about the history of systemic racism across the world.
9. Create new communication channels
Creating a new slack channel or company forum specifically on the topic of racism will help fight racism and educate about racism. Invite as many colleagues as possible to become active members of that channel. This will educate colleagues who might have unconscious bias towards black people.