The Balance Between Race and Being Human

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anti-racism in the workplace

The Road to Anti Racism In The Workplace

A client of mine reminded me of a delicate balance that so many of us often forget, being color agnostic at work, does not mean you need to be inhumane to people with differences.  What is interesting to me as an EEO investigator and trainer, I am grounded in the basic concept that people should be anti-discriminatory when it comes to “protected classes” or the differences such as race, color, sex, national origin, etc. when working with people.  The executive leadership coach in me is often discussing how leaders need to adapt to their people.  A very special and warm thank you to a client of mine who reminded the two are not mutually exclusive.

A Story of Action Against Racism in The Workplace

You see my client is a Caucasian man.  On his management team are two highly skilled and very valued Black workers (one male and one female).  Given the current state of our nation and an article my client just read related to the George Floyd tragedy and ensuing riots, my client sent a note addressing their color to these two employees, something that on first blush would be against my recommendation.  He sent the following:

“I have no idea whether you feel this way (see George Floyd article) and I don’t pretend to know what it feels like to be black and have people judge me just by the color of my skin. But I do know that I admire and care very much about both of you as people. I just wanted to let you both know I’m here for you and would go to the end of the earth for you. As the leader of our business I have an obligation to assure you have an environment that is healthy and rewarding. If you need anything just ask me, it’s done.”  

While part of me can’t help thinking that there is something potentially problematic with calling out people based on their color in the workplace, the other part of me couldn’t be more proud to work with someone willing to acknowledge and reach out in a very real way to his employees.  In other words, this leader did the right thing, for the right reasons, despite the potential sensitivity and issues that could come from this type of outreach.

I felt compelled to share this story as both a reminder on the importance of understanding that training your workforce on sexual harassment and discrimination matters along with remembering basic tenants that I bundle as CARETM in my business.   CARETM stands for having Conviction, Adaptability & Accountability, Realness and Enthusiasm.

How to Proactively Become Anti-Racist In Your Workplace

Interested in learning how your business can impact your workers for the better during this time of proactive action with everyday anti racism? Contact our team today.

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Andy Botwin

Andrew (or Andy) founded Strategy People Culture, LLC in 2012 with a passion for working with the interconnectivity between people and business and the fundamental beliefs in the symbiotic relationship between the advancement and success of both people and business.