Updated: Jun 14
“Racism is a contempt for life, an arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion, before which other races must kneel in submission.” - MLK
Definition: Systemic Discrimination- Employment discrimination that results from the normal operation of human resource systems, especially the procedures used for hiring, promoting, compensating, and training employees. Because these practices can create a disparate effect on the employment of minorities and females, equal employment opportunity laws require their elimination.
Systemic Racism is trauma:
Writing a check to a black organization will not solve the problem. The check is the equivalent of a bandage for a victim that also requires a tourniquet, sutures, physical therapy, and yes mental health. Do you need the check? Yes! Is it sufficient? No! The check (bandages) may help initially and in some instances, it may not help at all because the injury is too severe. While serving in the military, I was taught to first attempt to stabilize the victim by tying a tourniquet above the injury. Second, suture the wound(s) if you can. Third, apply bandages. Fourth, transport the victim . Fifth, prep for surgery. Sixth, administer antibiotics and monitor for infection. Seventh, change bandages frequently. Eighth, start physical therapy and rehabilitation. Ninth, evaluate and provide necessary mental health. Last, conduct an After Action Review (AAR) to evaluate the procedure for effectiveness and continue to grow, learn, and improve the process.
No-one should be made to feel like they have to tiptoe around on eggshells in society or at work which should be a microcosm of society but is often more restricted by a lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Start with kindness by first, learning what it means to know, love, respect, and trust yourself. Only then will people be able to treat one another with genuine authentic kindness.
2. Be Intentional
Start the week with small talk to build relationships of mutual respect and a genuine interest with someone from a different ethnic group. We are all human and we should take the time to demonstrate it. The work will be there but that invaluable employee may not. You will never know what kind of day a person is having unless you ask and they know and believe that you care. Take a few minutes daily to be intentional about checking on your people.
3. Create a Safe Space for Racial Conversations
Invite participants to participate in unstructured group discussion. Participants should be allowed to share anecdotally without a scheduled agenda or topic to discuss. Going further, consider including the topic of racism in 1:1 meetings with direct reports. The discussion of racism does not have to monopolize your 1:1 but it should be offered within your span of control.
4. The Revolving Brown Door
Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics substantiate the fact that the revolving brown door of people of color is real. The onset of COVID-19 has only served to exacerbate the matter. https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/08/us/coronavirus-pandemic-race-impact-trnd/index.html. The data is there to fix the door. Organizations cannot afford to go through the motions of addressing discrimination in the workplace. Hiring one black male employee per location and showing them off like an honor coin is not okay. The on-boarding of minority employees should include a laser focus on setting the employee up for success. The standard on-boarding is destined to fail. It is critical to refrain from clinical judgment during the interview and on-boarding process. Managers must hire in the best interest of the organization which should at a minimum represent the demographic population in the area for every ethnicity group.
5. Enforce Constructive Discharge
Constructive Discharge- A decision constructed by a court that an employee who quit was actually discharged because of intolerable working conditions
The same can be said for the laissez-faire legal system regarding constructive discharge. Employers know that attorneys are reluctant to touch constructive discharge. Therefore, constructive discharge is nothing more than a lofty definition with no teeth. Corporate malfeasance is an arduous process to substantiate. Instead, attorneys are looking for big paydays with discrimination, disparate treatment, and sexual harassment.
6. Racial Equity Audit
Organizations that are serious about diversity equity and inclusion take proactive steps to ensure that they are free of discrimination. Organizations should schedule an annual third party audit with a reputable third-party firm. Never bank on not being audited. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCPs) is expanding compliance requirements beyond government and state contract organizations.
Though the EEOC has good intentions, the system is saturated with cases that have created a bottleneck and a backlog. Companies are aware of this and realize that the odds are in their favor. Systemic discrimination is so widespread within Corporate America that the egotistical mantra is oftentimes consequently that of “What are you gonna do about it?”
8. Organizational Make-Up
Any organization that is serious about standing with the black community must demonstrate it in the demographic composition of the organization at every tier including board positions. The suggestion that there are no qualified candidates is no longer acceptable. Diverse talent will come to you. What will you do to cultivate and develop your diverse talent?
9. Venture Capitalist and Supplier Diversity
In addition to writing a check, establish your own venture capitalist program for black business enterprise. Fund and support the development of black businesses through supplier diversity initiatives. Sponsor black business initiatives in your local or surrounding communities.
“There is nothing essentially wrong with power. The problem is American power is unequally distributed.”-MLK