Put your hand up if you DON’T want to feel a sense of being understood and belonging?
This is one of the reasons why the #BLM movement has gathered such strong momentum.
The way George Floyd died sparked empathy, which led to an understanding by mainstream Americans. That naturally led to them taking up the race issue.
The media is saturated with race issues, so let’s not make it about the colour of your skin.
I want to talk about marginalisation as the solutions are the same.
It’s Not Realistic To Expect Marginalised Groups To Lead Change
When you belong to a marginalised group AND you lack authority, how do you have a voice? On the street and in the workplace?
As we’ve seen in #BLM, it starts with action from Team Majority; empathy, understanding and compassion, followed by support from those who have normalised their privileged existence; aka Team Majority.
Shriveling In Your Own Echo Chamber?
Whether you belong to Team Majority or Team Marginalised, have you sought to understand a colleague from the other team recently?
Next time you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, ask yourself this powerful question:
“Are you open to the views of a colleague that might be different to yours?”
Not being open to the experiences of others leads to us stagnating in your own echo chamber, hearing only our own cooooo-eeeee over and over again!
Are you denying others that understanding and belonging we’ve already established everyone wants?
Step One – Listening
Stepping into the unknown could be as easy as asking others how they feel about recent global incidents.
Before you do;
√ pop your own ideas in your back pocket for a few minutes, and
√ focus on providing a safe space for your colleague to be vulnerable.
What a great lived demonstration of emotional intelligence!
When they’re done, thank them for their vulnerability (insert your own word if this one is not PC for your workplace) and process their words the next time you pop the kettle on!
Will This Create Better Work Outcomes?
Academics at Harvard Business School and the University of Virginia explain in their book, Race, Work, and Leadership: New Perspectives on the Black Experience, that when employees feel they are supported by managers and colleagues, or by a support network, they bring their authentic self to work. The gives rise to:
√ More engagement
√ Greater contribution
√ Better output
√ Increased morale
√ Reduced staff turnover
Step Two – Create Momentum
Find ways to extend support appropriate to your workplace.
That may mean a multi-cultural steering group or a shared lunch to showcase the food of the different cultures in your workplace.
Surely that beats an egg sandwich in the car?!
This idea would stringboard beautifully from the survey I suggested in last week’s blog; the first of this series. Read it here.
Next week, let’s look at your work practices and Harvard Business School’s research that shows racism begins before an employee steps foot in the workplace.