What do you do when you want leadership to take action but they’re being complacent? What do you do when you’re asking for them to take a stand and they say nothing?
In 2020, we saw people asking for change to happen. We saw people who were looking for organizations to step up and be better leaders and role models. In 2021, accountability for organizations will be the focus. Organizations will need to show that they are taking the action that they said they were going to do. With the recent events on Capitol Hill, our team members are feeling so many emotions. As leaders, it is important to address uncomfortable conversations especially when it is a human rights issue. People are looking to leaders to lead the way through the conversations and to take action. The level of safety people are needing right now is at utmost importance. Individuals are looking to be seen as their foundation is shaken. This safety and security can look like connecting with team members as individuals and creating a compelling future vision with them. The future vision will help to create hope and provide direction and focus.
People are impacted by a multitude of world events happening around us. These events include farmers’ protests in India that are impacting people who have Indian backgrounds especially from a farming family. Their ancestors and family members are standing at the front line asking for justice. Yes, the situation is in India. However, there may be team members who are distracted and feeling different emotions as their family members are marginalized there.
As a leader who may have team members who are impacted, ask them how they are doing. Ask them what is happening with the situation and if their family is safe.
All of these events have an effect on people’s emotional, physical, mental and spiritual body and we need to realize the impact it has on your employee’s and how it might bring back old emotions. Questions such as “do I belong here?” and “what does this mean for us and what does it mean for me” may be coming up in your employee’s minds. It is so important to create a safe place for your employees to be themselves, feel accepted and that they belong in the organization. They need to feel as though they are in an environment where they can share their points of view on subjects and feel safe about it.
How can your organization get involved?
There are different ways your organization can get involved in eliminating systemic racism. Things such as signing pledges and taking part in challenges can help guide your organization and create a safer environment for your employees. These pledges can also serve as conversation starters amongst your teams of ways to make your employees feel more accepted.
The BlackNorth Initiative and the 50-30 Challenge are two ways Veza Global is implementing equity, diversity and inclusion practices into the workplace.
This pledge is committed to removing anti-Black systemic racism in Canada and moving towards an equitable future where all Black Canadians and other underrepresented groups will achieve their full potential, free from systemic barriers. The BlackNorth Initiative is composed of senior leaders from all Canadian companies and organizations-both from the public and private sectors.
Why be part of the BlackNorth Initiative?
The persistent inequities across our country underscore our urgent, national need to address and alleviate racial, ethnic, and other tensions and to promote the elimination of anti-Black systemic racism wherever it exists. As leaders of some of Canada’s largest corporations, signatories manage hundreds of thousands of employees and play a critical role in ensuring that inclusion is core to their workplace culture and that their businesses are representative of the communities they serve. Moreover, it has been proven that true diversity is good for the economy; it improves corporate performance, drives growth, and enhances employee engagement.
To learn more about the BlackNorth Initiative and ways your organization can get involved, click here.
This initiative is bringing together the Federal government and organizations, researchers, corporate partners and equity seeking groups to advance gender equity and diversity in leadership across Canada.
The challenge’s meaning refers to two aspirations: 50% gender parity and 30% representations from under-represented groups ( Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ2+ community) on Canadian Boards and senior management.
To learn more about the 50-30 Challenge and to participate click here.
As leaders, we need to see everyone we work with as humans. The need to connect with them should be greater than the fear of saying the wrong thing when events happen both locally and around the world. We need to be able to create a safe space for people to discuss how they’re feeling and ways they can be supported. Speaking up and shedding light when situations occur shows that you care as opposed to leaving it in the dark and not even giving your employees a chance to speak about how it’s affecting them. It’s better to say the wrong thing rather than nothing at all. It at least shows that you care and have the right intentions.
It’s about creating an inclusive environment for your employees. We need to make them feel like they are supported and they belong in the organization. As a leader it is your responsibility to give people a safe space to express their thoughts and opinions. Learning from your employee’s experiences is what creates the diversity of thought in the workplace. Connecting through phone calls, emails and team meetings are ways you can reach out to your staff and start the conversation about current issues that may be affecting them.
Remember, your need to connect with humans should be greater than your fear.