This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.

3 Ways to Ensure Black Lives Matter in the Workplace

Jul 23, 2020
4 min read

With the current climate of the Black Lives Matter movement, many companies have showcased their support through social media posts and commitment to change

Meanwhile, at some of those very same companies, many Black folks on social media have shared their unfortunate and sometimes traumatizing work experiences.

For some who have been on the receiving end of racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination, they’ve either been reprimanded for sharing their experiences, or haven’t received support from their employers––which does not align with public-facing support on social media.

This is not an experience that is brand new to Black professionals, but it is an experience that should not have to continue any longer.

While the ways in which companies can ensure that Black lives matter are endless, here are a few to get started.

Photo description: two professional white-presenting women in an office environment talking over an iPad. Photo by @amyhirschi
Photo description: two professional white-presenting women in an office environment talking over an iPad. Photo by @amyhirschi

1. Reevaluate HR policies and revisit complaints

There is arguably no question about why Human Resources exists, but the effectiveness and equity (or lack thereof) can sometimes forge feelings of mistrust and distrust amongst employees.

With the varying levels of nuance within HR teams and policies, there is not always clarity surrounding the ways in which an employee is protected––or not.

It is also one of many reasons why some Black employees may feel HR may stretch policies at times to serve severe consequences (including termination).

It would be useful to consider how policies and procedures, and even perception of Human Resources, influence diverse groups of employees.

Additionally, it’s important to revisit employee complaints to HR. There are endless testimonies being shared daily on social media and the news by Black professionals (often women), who have lost jobs due to advocating for themselves, sharing an experience with HR, or leaving because of a lack of response or action taken after they’ve reported incidents of racism, sexism, or sexual assault. This can make people feel disregarded and invisible at their place of employment.

As a company, by being reflective and honest about the current state of affairs within your HR department and overall workplace culture, HR teams can start addressing issues at the root and start becoming better advocates for Black employees today.

Photo description: Black man with high top fade laughs against a white background wearing round sunglasses and a black shirt with words on it.
Photo description: Black man with high top fade laughs against a white background wearing round sunglasses and a black shirt with words on it.

2. Amplify Black talent, voices, and experiences

There is always room at the table for more seats, and those seats should be filled with people who not only possess talent and skills on all levels; use their voices to shine light on inequity; provide diversity in thought and ideas; but also hold leadership accountable for their actions and decisions.

Black employees deserve to have fair opportunities and consideration for positions within a company that are not only limited to diversity-based roles.

They should feel confident that their stories, concerns, or ideas will not fall on deaf ears. Black employees should not feel minimized for speaking their truths and trying to cultivate a work environment that embodies diverse, equitable, and inclusive ideals.

When Black talent, stories, and experiences matter in the workplace (and everywhere else), so will Black lives.

Photo description: a pile of $100 bills

3. Adequately compensate Black employees

Numerous studies and data have shown that Black people are compensated less on the dollar in comparison to equally or lesser qualified white counterparts. Black women are paid even less.

Like actress, comedian, and Oscar award winner Mo’Nique and her 2018 Netflix deal, Black professionals are often lowballed for salary and even sometimes retaliated against for wanting to negotiate for higher pay despite their credentials.

Eliminating racial discrimination in the form of compensation benefits everyone all around. If people are equitably paid, morale could potentially be boosted. People often begin to feel valued for the work and time that they give day in and day out.

It is contradictory to promote inclusion or that Black lives matter when there are disparities and gaps in wages between Black people and Black women.

While every company may not currently be in the financial position to raise salaries or implement other initiatives, there are many other ways to prepare and plan to be more inclusive, considerate, and to practice effectiveness within the work environment that will still provide benefits to employees.

Most people spend at least forty hours a week utilizing their talents, ideas and energies to elevate the company they work for. With COVID-19 preventing many from physically being in their offices, working from home requires a different level of commitment and discipline to accomplish organizational goals and outcomes, which is exhausting for many.

To have to work and not feel safe or valued by the company that you’re giving so much to, while the same company is publicly advocating for BLM outside of the workplace––can feel extremely discouraging.

If Black lives matter on social media, let us make sure that message translates even more in the workplace.
Asha Elaine BrownAsha Elaine Brown

Storyteller | Strategic Thinker | Bias Challenger | Advocate