“One of the most important things companies can do in this moment to support Black employees is to educate themselves about the current and historic racial injustices that Black people contend with in this country. Reading posts and hashtags of Black employees helps people within organizations understand the current moment through the experiences of those most affected.
Companies should make public statements, commit to specific actions, and dedicate resources to supporting Black employees and employees from other racialized groups who are experiencing the unequal mental and emotional strain of the current race crisis – not to mention the racialized disparities in physical health due to COVID-19 and those that will result from exposure to the virus during the nationwide protests.
One of the things that social cognitive psychologists know is that these incidents and the institutional and structural racism and white supremacy that underlie them take an unequal toll on the cognitive and emotional resources of Black people, making it much more difficult to work productively and effectively. Of course, right now may not be the time to focus on productivity, but it is important to acknowledge that while some people may be able to “tune the noise out” and get to work, for many – and I believe a growing number – the “noise” is actually the “signal” that cannot be ignored or pushed aside.
People need their companies to acknowledge the disparities these communities contend with, both in society and at work. Companies should commit to reviewing and evaluating their policies, practices, procedures and norms to understand how they might contribute to racialized disparities in the workplace and dedicate specific people and financial resources towards shifting them to foster equity and inclusion.
Moreover, companies should communicate the ways they are proactively supporting their Black employees and their communities – including the supports that may currently exist and new resources that support these individuals in this moment (e.g., paid time off). Finally, companies should lead by aligning their investments with their values, and communicate their commitments so that employees and the public know where the company stands. What charitable donations is the company making to support racial justice in the U.S.? Does the organization support a company match so that everyone can act in solidarity?"
Seeing tangible evidence that one’s company understands, acknowledges and is acting to support racial justice and equity – in the world and at work – helps Black employees and employees from other racialized groups feel seen and supported.