How Your Company Can Fight Racism— Inside & Outside the Workplace
Since the brutal murder of George Floyd, the demand to take a strong stance against racism has swept the nation.
However, while some companies have made statements to show up as an anti-racist company, or have put measures in place to better support Black staff and provide better messaging to their customer base, other companies have done nothing. If you work for a company that has been mostly silent, or has been vocal but has failed to accompany words with actions, how do you encourage your company to be better advocates for the Black community? How can you fight racism in the workplace?
Bring your concerns about the lack of messaging and action to the head of your Diversity and Inclusion department or HR department. If you work for a smaller company, go directly to the executive team, and encourage them to take any of the following steps:
Encourage them to get a message out
Company leaders must be challenged if they have yet to release a statement regarding their stance on the movement. Perhaps they couldn't find the right words or worry about offending their customer base, but the longer time goes on, the more uncomfortable it becomes. Ignoring systemic racism when it is everywhere is like ignoring an 18-inch infected gash on your leg. Employees notice. Customers notice. The gash will not heal on its own. Hard work and expertise is needed to heal both the physical wound and the emotional wound the country is experiencing.
Let your executive team know that not only is their inaction sending a message to the staff—particularly to their Black employees who do not feel valued at their organization—but also it sends the message to consumers that they just don't care. Mention that consumers are making buying decisions based on messaging about the Black Lives Matter movement; by staying silent, they are opening the company up for public pushback that can affect their bottom line.
Suggest a company-wide implicit bias training workshop
All forms of racism, whether it's microaggressions or overt violent racism, start with bias. And no matter how hard we all try, we all have implicit biases that were embedded in us by our upbringing, inequitable education systems, media, and more. When we are able to check our bias at the door, we can make a true difference in how we treat our coworkers, our vendors, and our clients.
While diversity and inclusion training company-wide is important, having a session exclusively on implicit bias will help the team work through some of their own biases and give them steps on how to correct those issues. This should be done with a trainer who creates a safe environment to explore our biases without shame and the tools to be better.
Suggest ways to support the Black community as an organization
If philanthropy is a core value of your company, you can suggest a list of organizations that your company can donate to that works to bring equitable solutions to the Black community.
However, not all companies, especially during COVID-19, are in a position to donate money. You can suggest that instead of a donation, your company utilizes Black-owned businesses as vendors. You can also work with the marketing department to share Black-owned businesses in your company's industry that could use more support.
See who's at the table
We all know the importance of ensuring that a company's staff is diverse, but this is also very important when it comes to the leadership team. If your leadership team is not diverse, ask if steps are being taken to correct that.
Is your board lacking in diversity? You can suggest a few Black or BIPOC leaders that may be a good fit to join your board.
Does your company host virtual events? Check to see if the speakers your company hosts are diverse, and if not, make suggestions of great speakers that could contribute to your organization's needs. For your research, you can do a search on LinkedIn or in Black associations for your industry.
Foster a company culture of empathy
As a Black woman, I can tell you that showing up at work with the internal and external pressure to be happy and positive is a heavy burden to carry. If you have not checked on your Black coworkers since the horrific events during Memorial Day weekend, they can still use more support. Each week there is a new story of another killing or a public display of racism; when you witness something like that, it's hard to show up as your whole self. For example, just 30 miles from my home a few weeks ago, someone put up a massive "Make America White Again" sign and placed it in the middle of the town square. Trying to keep focused when I am terrified of whether I am safe in my own city is an impossible ask.
Let your Black coworkers know that you are there for them, and ask what they need for support. If you are a manager and your Black direct reports haven't taken any time off, encourage them to use some time. Being a key player in fostering an empathetic work environment makes people feel seen and valued.
While Black people are dealing with this the hardest, it's a difficult time for us all. We can all use a little more flexibility where we can get it, and some grace can go a long way as we work together to fight white supremacy and heal.
Growing Your Career in Technical Support: 4 Tips for Getting Hired at Elastic from Support Director Heidi Sager
Heidi Sager loves math, but she also loves working with people.
She always has, which is why she enjoyed her part-time job working at the IT department of the University of Colorado while she was studying electrical engineering. (She'd started in computer science, but explains that it "wasn't for her" and switched her major.) She helped students and professors with word processors, basic programming, and software checkout, and took a full-time job after graduation as a UNIX system administrator.
Working at Relativity—the global tech company that equips legal and compliance professionals with a powerful data-organizing and discovery platform—looked different in 2020. The highly collaborative environment of their Chicago headquarters transitioned to a virtual setting, and just like companies around the country, Relativity adapted their goals and major projects to a completely remote environment.
Diversity Reboot 2021: The One Hundred Day Kickoff<p><strong>When</strong>: February 1-5, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free!</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://summit.powertofly.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>We had to include our own Diversity Reboot on our list of the best diversity and inclusion events to attend in 2021 because we know firsthand how the quality of 100+ expert speakers, the enthusiasm of 10,000 participants, and the cutting-edge tech that enables meaningful virtual networking and job fairs combine to create a truly epic five-day experience. This year, the theme 100 Day Kickoff harnesses the energy of the new government's first 100 days in office to help jump-start personal and professional plans to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces. </p><p>Following the February summit, we'll have a monthly series of smaller virtual summits on topics spanning everything from returnships to LGBTQ+ advocacy, so be sure to stay tuned for updates!<br></p>
The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When</strong>: February 3-4, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hr.com/en/webcasts_events/virtual_events/upcoming_virtual_events/the-future-of-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-2021_kcxf8glq.html#detail" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This virtual conference put on by HR.com focuses on how social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have pushed DEI at work beyond legal compliance and into a major factor of any company or brand's culture, employee engagement, and performance. Topics include how to uncover and resolve pay gaps across your team and hire top-level diverse talent.</p>
Workplace Revolution: From Talk to Collective Action<p><strong>When</strong>: March 8-12, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$820</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://cvent.me/ZQ4BbE" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>The Forum on Workplace Inclusion's 33rd annual conference includes 12 session tracks, from DEI Strategy to Social Responsibility, along with 59 workshops and daily networking sessions. This year's theme focuses on one question: "What will it take to start a workplace revolution that moves us from talk to action?"</p>
Diversity: How Employers Can Match Words With Deeds<p><strong>When</strong><strong>: </strong>May 19, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register</strong><strong>: </strong>Early bird registration is $49 and general admission is $149</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://hopin.com/events/may-virtual-conference-diversity-how-employers-can-match-words-with-deeds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here</a></p><p>From Day One is hosting monthly conferences in 2021 focused on different ways for companies to foster strong relationships with their customers, communities, and employees. May's half-day virtual event is focused specifically on how companies can make diversity promises that don't fall flat and features workshops, panels, and a fireside chat.</p>
Hire with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion<p><strong>When:</strong> August 18, 2021</p><p><strong>Where: </strong>Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$195</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hci.org/conferences/2021-virtual-conference-hire-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-august-18-2021" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This conference put on by the Human Capital Institute is one of 12 virtual conferences that HCI has planned for 2021. This one focuses on fair and inclusive talent acquisition, including how to attract diverse talent, implement inclusive hiring practices, and addressing bias in employee selection. Other conferences will focus on optimizing talent strategy, engaging employees, and developing your workforce.</p>
Virtual Grace Hopper Celebration 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> September 26-29, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual, broadcast from Chicago, Illinois</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Was $799 for regular access to the virtual conference in 2020; 2021 pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://ghc.anitab.org/attend/registration/" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>Grace Hopper might be the best-known conference for women in tech. Through keynote presentations, networking sessions, job fairs, and community-building activities, vGHC reached over 30,000 women for their 2020 conference and are expecting even more in 2021! While not a conference focused exclusively on diversity and inclusion, many speakers plan to focus their talks on creating environments for women to thrive in the male-dominated tech field.</p>
Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> October 25-27, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual and in person in Austin, Texas as of now</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://conferences.shrm.org/inclusion" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>The Society for Human Resource Management's biggest conference of the year saw 1,200 DEI leaders participate last year; SHRM hopes to see even more come to learn, be inspired, and to walk away with a playbook of implementable strategies to create truly inclusive workplace cultures.</p>
AfroTech 2021<p><strong></strong><strong>When:</strong> November 8-13, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Early bird pricing is $149 for individuals and $249 for corporate attendees; regular pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://experience.afrotech.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>AfroTech is a conference hosted by Blavity, a tech media platform for Black millennials. It focuses on emerging tech trends, connecting Black talent with top tech recruiters, and providing networking and educational opportunities, with an overall goal of building a strong Black tech community. Over 10,000 people participated in 2020. While the conference isn't focused specifically on DEI, its main audience of Black tech talent is an important one to understand and to engage at work and beyond, and several speakers plan to focus on issues of race and inclusion at work. </p>
A Conversation with Vouch's Lead Designer Carrie Phillips