White America, here is what you can do…
I have been asked by white leaders, “How can I help? What can I do to be a part of the solution?” This article answers their questions from a human resources perspective.
Many corporate leaders are paralyzed, not knowing how to respond to the public outcry of racism in America. Some corporate leaders are writing checks to inner city, at-risk nonprofit organizations. While others are offering to pay for the funerals of the black victims of the senseless police brutality. And most corporate leaders are writing statements, in support of “Black Lives Matter”. These are wonderful gestures and acts of kindness to Black America during this time of civil unrest.
I speak for many African Americans when I say, “Thank you for your acknowledgment, sincerity, and empathy, but there is more you can do.” It is unfortunate it took such gruesome, eye-opening public events to finally draw immediate attention to racism in America and the abuse of power by law enforcement. So now that we have your attention, here’s what you can do to help end systemic racism in the workplace.
Source Black Candidates. Corporate America should take notes from the recruiting strategies of professional sports teams of Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Basketball Association (NBA), to name a few. These world-renowned brands literally go to the ends of the earth to source the best talent. Their fans appreciate the extent these organizations go to find the top talent and willingly pay top dollar to see diverse athletes compete at the highest levels. Corporate America should follow this example and make drastic efforts to source diverse talent. As a start, source from historical black colleges and universities (HBCUs), develop partnerships with professional minority organizations, and invest in minority internship and co-op programs to supply a pipeline of diverse talent to compete for corporate roles.
Mentor Black Employees. You can grow a wealth of knowledge from books and formal education. However, when you can glean from a mentor’s experiences, expertise and career coaching, you will gain wisdom. There are major benefits of White Corporate America mentoring Black employees. Firstly, it humanizes black employees and opens up deep conversations and personal relationship. Secondly, it encourages loyalty when a personal investment is made in the mentee’s success. Lastly, mentorship opens up a world of business possibilities and opportunities for both parties involved. Race relations would positively benefit from mentor mentee relationships.
Position Blacks as People Leaders and Decision Makers. Once your organization establishes a culture of diversity, do not forget the inclusion. Corporations should intentionally build collaborative, supportive, and respectful work environments that reflect people of color in the boardroom and other corporate leadership roles. Blacks should not be viewed as the satisfied quota or the token minority for the sake of being culturally diverse. Instead, blacks should be seen as an authority, innovator, and risk taker having the capacity and capability to lead people and make complex business decisions for the organization.
Talitha Beverly is Principal Consultant at HR Strong LLC, a virtual human resource consulting and outsourcing firm.