I’ve been thinking about whether I should weigh in on the tragic killing of George Floyd. At first, I decided that I should stick to what I know best – providing management advice, but then my own personal anger took over. I remembered that I always preach that we need to be leaders, not just managers. In difficult times like this, we need to provide leadership if we are serious about dealing with the problem of racism.
I am angry about what happened in Minneapolis and has been allowed to occur in many cities across the country. I am embarrassed, not only of my white privilege but that I live in a community that is so segregated and harbors so many racists. I am embarrassed that white Americans have allowed this to go on for so long. And yet, I feel so naïve. I need to speak up more about racism and the plight that my friends of color face. I’m on a personal mission to learn more, speak out more, and do what I can to help improve the lives of Black Americans.
In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about how I would handle this in a workplace environment. I share this advice with you, particularly if you are a white manager:
- As White Americans, we shouldn’t generalize how people are feeling. We need to speak out and be proactive from a place of knowledge and fairness.
- We should create space in the workplace for a serious discussion of these issues.
- Consider forming a diverse committee of internal and external representatives to discuss workplace and hiring issues.
- Do more than having a diversity statement in place. Pledge to hire a fixed percentage more of individuals of color in the next year.
- We need to allow people to be angry and upset.
- Financially support black-owned businesses in your community.
You can probably add to this list, and I hope you do it in the comment section below.
We can no longer afford to be silent. This situation opened my eyes. I will no longer be silent.