A truly inclusive environment requires intentional steps to ensuring Black employees have the same support and connection at work as anyone else. A DEI expert explains.
By Zee Johnson
Feeling a sense of belonging and connection is extremely important for workers today, especially Black employees. But a recent survey found that 41% of employees don’t feel valued at all. And another report revealed that more than 40% of employees felt isolated, both physically and emotionally, leading to anger, frustration, and lowered commitment.
For some organizations, this may be a wake-up call to reevaluate their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts to see if they are landing as they expect. And Dr. Nika White, author of “Inclusion Uncomplicated: A Transformative Guide to Simplify DEI,” says that the first thing companies can do is analyze their data.” If you haven’t been collecting both quantitative and qualitative data, start there. Organizations must have a baseline of where they are to determine where they want to end up,” she says.
Once gathered, leaders can forge a pathway to total DEI effectiveness that’s based solely on their own metrics. Dr. White says this pathway includes two steps that have been proven to make Black employees feel safe and included at work, ultimately increasing their feelings of belonging.
- Take an interest in Black employees. For instance, ensure that conversations throughout the office include Black employees to strengthen all around comradery.
- Acknowledge that racism and microaggressions exist. Once recognized, work to combat them by creating policies and procedures that decrease inequities. Also, address any issues as soon as they may happen.
A more “seasonal” approach to connecting with Black employees and fostering workplace support and connection would be through the commemoration Black History Month. Dr. White sees this as the perfect opportunity for the workforce to celebrate unnoticed Black accomplishments and gain lasting knowledge. “This is a time for celebration, but also learning. There are so many Black Americans that have been overlooked in the teaching of American history,” she says. “Companies should uplift Black employees, but also do their part in encouraging everyone to learn more about American history. Black history is American history.”
“Inclusion Uncomplicated: A Transformative Guide to Simplify DEI” gives real-life, workplace scenarios, the latest research on initiatives that work and that don’t, and strategies for untangling the gnarled threads of bias.
Dr. White says her book was crafted to give readers and workplace leaders everything needed to become DEI allies and changemakers, no matter where they are on their DEI journey. “This book is relevant for anyone who has begun or is starting their DEI journey and doesn’t know what to do next,” she says. “Diving into DEI can seem overwhelming if you’ve never encountered this type of self-reflective work. Inclusion Uncomplicated… makes DEI digestible for everyone to understand and apply to their organization and life.”