It’s important to foster a workplace culture where everyone feels a sense of belonging. As a result of the recent events highlighting racism and racial injustice in our country, people of all backgrounds are choosing to speak out, step up and look for ways to join the fight for racial equality.
For many, these events have prompted a heightened appreciation for the impacts discriminatory practices have on their Black colleagues and are looking for ways to get involved and support their coworkers. For those looking to lean in to allyship, here are three ways to start.
Even if you care deeply about the senseless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the ongoing examples of discrimination in everyday life, your Black colleagues are affected disproportionately. An important first step is to acknowledge this and understand they may look like they’re okay, but they may not be. To show your support, give them space to be angry, afraid, disenchanted or disengaged from work. Be considerate of what they’re experiencing.
If they choose to share their feelings, verbally acknowledge the events and respond to your colleagues with support and validation. Even if you don’t fully understand, offer your solidarity and support. Most importantly, listen.
Black employees may need time to work through the impact of current events. Instead of asking what you can do to be a better ally, share the steps you’re taking and offer to check in periodically or schedule time to chat in a few weeks.
And even if your intentions are good, members of the Black community may feel impacted differently and may have different boundaries around sharing their feelings and experiences. Understand it may be difficult for them to share their experience with you or others, so don’t pressure them to do so by putting them on the spot. Instead, do some research on your own and educate yourself on the history and current instances of racial injustice affecting the Black community.
You may feel powerless to affect real change, but there are easy ways for you to get involved and support the Black community and your fellow colleagues. Start by speaking out against racist behavior and discriminatory acts at work and in your personal circles with friends or family. Make it known you don’t support it.
You can also donate to organizations that help the Black community, endorse and buy from Black-owned businesses, and support and sign petitions that enable policy change.
Perhaps most importantly, if you make a mistake, learn from it. Listen and accept feedback, apologize, and use the lesson to continue your allyship journey and strengthen your resolve to foster inclusion and diversity in our communities.
Want to learn more about being an ally? Here are some additional resources to consider: