racism and leadership

How Can the Leadership Handle Racism?

How can leaders handle racism

This is the ‘Pride Month’. A month to celebrate diversity and inclusion. A month that has come as the timely reminder that the United States, and the world largely, has more than one pandemic to fight through, in the wake of the unfortunate event of George Floyd’s death.

These sure are tough times. Unsettling times.

And in difficult times, the world turns to its leaders for answers and guidance. Leaders, as we know them are human, too!

It matters little whether you are a leading a team or a family. Your actions as a leader are of great consequence. And hence in times as uncertain and sensitive as these, it becomes all the more imperative to make your actions matter.

Break the silence.

There is nothing more reprehensible than keeping silent on issues that matter. Silence implies acceptance. As a leader you must speak against the injustice and for the inclusion & diversity at your workplace. Acknowledge the wrong and comfort the aggrieved.

Be patient and available.

Yes, George Floyd’s death has triggered the aggrieved black community to speak up, but don’t expect the black employees in your team to suddenly come up to you and start sharing their heart. They need time to process and react. But as a leader you must let them know you are there for them, and that you have got their back.

Don’t hesitate to start the conversation your team might be hesitating to start.

Racism is not something that can be talked about as an icebreaker. This is a sensitive issue but must be discussed. The conversation should start from you, the leader. Waiting for the employees of color to start the discussion on their own will only make you look disconnected and uninterested. And that would certainly conflict with ‘being patient and available’. Hence, take the lead as the leader and be forthcoming. One on one meetings are the best way to have these conversations as they also gives your employee the privacy she may need. A few ways to begin this conversation can be:

  • We are all saddened by the recent turn of events. Do you want to talk about it or anything that might be bothering you?
  • Have you ever witnessed anyone in our company falling prey to racism?
  • Do you think it is safe to discuss ‘racism’ at work?
  • Has the ‘leadership’ in the company ever acted in a way that can be termed ‘racist’?

Be authentic, don’t fake.

Don’t just jump the bandwagon to save your reputation. You must mean what you say. Your employees will know if you say #BlackLivesMatter just for the sake of it!

Introspect and acknowledge.

Think through deep and recall if you were ever a part of the cause that led to the problem. If you were a part of a decision taken on the basis of someone’s color, if you discriminated against your employees because they were NOT white, or if you saw injustice happening in the organization but stayed quiet because it did not concern you, you are a part of the problem. At this point, when humanity is at a low point, you must do everything to rise as the leader. And it starts with introspecting and acknowledging the mistakes you may have made.

Summing up

Your journey as the leader doesn’t end at that. After you acknowledge, you must go to the first step we discussed and start afresh!

Where does Peoplebox stand?

We as an organization working very closely with managers and leaders, stand with the black community and LGBTQ community. We believe #BlackLivesMatter and we stand for fairness and equality.

We acknowledge that change does not happen in a day but believe that a beginning is all that is needed. The fight to equality is long, and we are committed to be a part of the change to ensure that each and every employee of whatsoever color feels equal, respected and included.

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