HomeEmployee ExperienceDEI&BDiversity & InclusionEight ways to establish racial equity and avoid missing DE&I targets

Eight ways to establish racial equity and avoid missing DE&I targets

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Analyze who progresses and who does not; who has their probation extended; and which candidates always come a close second in job interviews or for promotions. When you look at performance ratings, consider who is not performing well and why. How complaints regarding race and ethnicity are dealt with.

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Eight ways to establish racial equity and avoid missing DE&I targetsAlthough many employers are striving to achieve racial equity at work, managers often share fears of saying or doing the wrong thing, and as a result that keeps them paralyzed from acting. Employers sometimes set targets and make public statements without an understanding of the commitment needed to make progress.

It can be challenging to know where to start. I have garnered the eight ways that employers can establish racial equity in the workplace listed from interviews with senior diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders working in the public, private, and third sectors, combined with the latest research, best practice, and my expertise working in the field of leadership, talent, and personal development.

There is not just one pathway to action, and this is not an exhaustive list. But these steps will guide you to create a route map tailored to your organization.

Ascertain collective knowledge

You need to understand the organizational culture, the formal and informal systems and behaviors, and the values which help or hinder racial equity in your organization.

Sources that you gather information on your culture are:

  1. Data and reports. These include climate surveys, annual reports, externally commissioned investigations, research, company statements, published targets, retention, performance matrix, and ethnicity pay gap data.
  2. Human resource trends. Analyze who progresses and who does not; who has their probation extended; and which candidates always come a close second in job interviews or for promotions. When you look at performance ratings, consider who is not performing well and why. How complaints regarding race and ethnicity are dealt with.

Bring to light your blind spots

You may not realize the blind spots in your decision-making that hold back racial equity. It may be that you, or your colleagues, are only recognizing those from certain educational backgrounds or with a particular accent as talent in your organization.

Ways that you can bring to light blind spots are to:

  1. Act on offhand comments. Provide education on the damaging impact of banter, microaggressions, and gaslighting. An example of gaslighting is when a colleague from an ethnically diverse background is told that they only got the job to tick a box. Or, when they make a complaint, they are made to feel that it is their fault.
  2. Ensure that a diverse group of people are in the room. When you create policies, practices, and strategies, make sure diverse voices are heard, included, valued, and acted on.

Learn from your colleagues

A huge part of this journey to racial equity is developing as a learning organization. You will need to learn and develop new and different behaviors, systems, and policies to advance.

Ways that you can learn from your colleagues are to:

  1. Engage the silent resistors. These are the people who feel hard done by when you change the status quo. Engage with them as allies, champions and mentors, sponsors, and experts. Don’t ignore their thoughts and feelings but help them to recognize that their experience of being able to avoid conversations about race and ethnicity is the definition of privilege.
  2. Develop racial fluency. You can’t leave racial fluency to chance; employers must actively seek to improve the ability of all staff to talk about race and ethnicity.

Experiment to find what works for your context

Advancing racial equity requires wise solutions, which will come from being curious and willing to experiment and fail in service of succeeding.

Ways that you can experiment are to:

  1. Ensure that you have psychological safety in which to operate. Psychological safety is the held belief that you will not suffer any negative consequences through taking interpersonal risks. This may include speaking up with an idea in a meeting, challenging the status quo, making a change, or admitting a mistake.
  2. Don’t be afraid to try new things and to take risks. Implement new ways to hire, manage and promote that are inclusive and recognize that everyone has a different starting point.

As a leader, you have a responsibility to build racial equity into the fabric of the organization, so that it’s not an add-on. Instead, it’s just part of the way you do things. It starts with everyone playing their part to keep racial equity on the agenda.

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Jenny Garrett OBE is an award-winning career coach, leadership trainer, speaker & author of Equality vs Equity: Tackling Issues of Race in the Workplace

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