How to Address Current Events (Racism and Police Brutality) In the Workplace

I write this with a heavy heart, as we continue to have to live through trauma after trauma and carry on with business as usual. We are expected to endure pain and continue working without interruption, while the companies and people we work for and with do one of three things: stay silent, make a bland statement, or add "educating everyone in the workplace on racism and race relations solutions" to our job description. 

Issa NO for me, dawg. 

As I talked to my best friends over the weekend, we discussed what are the next steps for us in addressing our employers. These are educated Black and Afro-Latina women who work for some of the biggest brands, TV networks, and companies nationally. Educators and Master's Degree holders. They worked together to find the words, and I'm here using my platform to share it with you all. 

Here are some steps to communicate about recent events in the workplace and below you will find a template that can be a good starting place for you to communicate with HR, management, or your CEO. 

1. Request that your company invest in consulting an outside organization that specializes in this kind of education. 

It is not our job to continue to do the emotional and intellectual labor of explaining ourselves and educating non-Blacks over and over again. We have to educate and extend grace, while we are being treated like everything less than human beings. We damn sure shouldn't have to ask our companies to acknowledge and work to change this problem, OR become the new feedback loop for white people who "can't find the words" or are "afraid of saying the wrong thing." It is not our job as the employees to educate our coworkers and leadership. It is the company's job to provide the resources and allocate the funds to improve company culture and personal education. 

2. Setup boundaries for work that is emotionally triggering or draining.

For those of us in the marketing and digital space, we live on social media. It's our job, yes, but scrolling through feeds of endless racist comments, traumatic news broadcasts, viral murder and police brutality videos, is not ok for our well-being or mental health. If any part of your job responsibilities exposes you to content or interactions that are emotionally triggering, speak up. 

3. Have a list of demands and outline what support looks like. 

Peloton did an excellent job at addressing the Black Lives Matter movement and recent events in their letter. If your company doesn't have a plan in place to ensure they have an anti-racist organization, donate to organizations doing the work, or at the very least provide resources, please address it. The longer we let companies slide, the longer they will remain apathetic or mediocre at best in dealing with these issues. Remember, our non-Black colleagues and peers go out into the real world with their problematic views, ideals and subconscious beliefs about black people and can be part of the problem. Let's make sure that our workplaces are part of the solution. 

 

Template to Address HR during civil unrest and racially tense times

I, like many others in the Black and Brown community, am struggling with the news cycle as we live through tragedy after tragedy brought on by police brutality and racism. While I want to show up to work and be my vibrant self, it is a bit hard to do with all of the emotions I currently feel -- sadness, anger, despair, and confusion.

[COMPANY] has a very visible relationship with the Black community. Not only through the individuals it employs, but through [EXAMPLES OF HOW YOUR COMPANY BENEFITS FROM BLACK PEOPLE OR BLACK CULTURE AS EMPLOYEES, PARTNERS, OR CONSUMERS]. As such, I feel [COMPANY] has a responsibility to use its platform to acknowledge what this community is currently experiencing both internally and externally.

It’s a failure of our leadership and HR, that people of color have to explain and elevate the trauma that we are experiencing as a result of systemic racism and perpetual violence towards black people. It is your responsibility as leadership to make space, raise awareness, or take action to make our company and society more anti-racist.

 

Now more than ever, we need empathy and acknowledgment from leadership that validates that they truly see us and our pain. In an effort to be solution-oriented, I have outlined suggestions below.

Internal Actions

  • Provide [X] amount of paid mental health days for employees struggling
  • Company-sponsored mental health sessions for employees who need someone to talk to one-on-one
  • Amplify educational + actionable resources for non-POC that addresses how they can serve as effective allies
  • Mandatory quarterly company-wide diversity training, with extra emphasis on educating managers/senior leads on how they can hold space for their managees
  • Understanding that is is not appropriate to pull on Black employees during this time to educate, advise or do any additional emotional and intellectual labor for colleagues 

External Actions

  • Public statement on socials and company website outlining the plan that will be put in place to combat racism and how we are standing in solidarity with the Black community.
  • Donation to an organization that supports Black Lives Matter or other activist groups that work to combat racism
  • Consult with a BIPOC (Black and indigenous people of color) group that can help you all navigate next steps, questions about allyship, and long-term plans of actions. 

I appreciate the time you took to read this email and look forward to the changes that will occur moving forward. 





Thank you to my girls: for finding the words, being about this life daily, and not allowing any foolishness in their space. Basically, thank you for everything. <3 

Rachel V., Christen W., Brittnee A., Cristine J., Erin J., Nicole B., Eliza C., Starlet W., and Sophia M.