Working while Black: quick tips for employers with Black employees

Written by: Dot McDonald – June 26th, 2020 8:19pm pst

Working While Black: An Employers Guide 

Working while black during a racial pandemic can be one of the most frustrating things you’ve ever had to do. You are constantly battling between saying something and fearing you’ll be looked at as the stereotypical aggressive black person, or pretending you’re unaffected and allowing the stress to force you into a mental breakdown. It’s exhausting. But instead of you (the black worker in a white space) having to deal with the burden… What if employers were already equipped with what to do in unprecedented times? That’s exactly what this article is for. To give employers a guide to some easy, yet crucial ways they can be ready to handle the effects of racial injustices within the work space. 

  • Acknowledge The Issue

There is nothing more insensitive or hurtful, then deliberately ignoring one of the Nation’s biggest murders. It’s on every news station. You’re adjusting shifts due to a city mandated curfew. You’re taking a different route to work to avoid millions of protestors. But you don’t mention the cause of it all? Whether it is or not, it seems intentional. The last thing you want is for your employees to conclude where you stand with the Black Lives Matter Movement before you’ve even spoken on it.

  • Be Prompt 

Don’t wait until your company has been called out to address the situation or to issue a statement. All this does is confirm that the failure to acknowledge it was intentional, and now that business is at jeopardy you want to correct it. If you genuinely believe that Black Lives Matter, there will be no delay or hesitation. If you feel Black Lives Matter is controversial, so is your leadership. You should not be in charge of a diverse staff, it’s literally not safe. 

  • Be Honest

Have the humility to admit that in this situation you are not sure of what to do, but you know that you must do something. Talk with your staff of color and ask for their input on how to create a workspace that feels more inclusive. Survey your staff about what can be implemented to assure everyone feels safe. Check in on the mental health of your staff of color. Nothing is more traumatizing then knowing you can be killed for the color of your skin. 

  • Take Action

Be bold in your stance that Black Lives Matter. Your staff of color should feel confident walking into work that they are supported. This will strengthen their work ethic, improve their mode and build their loyalty to your company. Celebrate the diversity in your workspace as much as possible. It needs to be clear that diversity is the strength of your company, not the weakness. Post on your social media pages, put up a sign on your business, send out an email to your staff and customers. You can even hire someone knowledgeable on the Black Lives Matter Movement to talk with your staff. 

  • Don’t Play Victim

As an employer, it’s easy to feel ganged up on when you learn you haven’t done everything you could do. But do not play victim. For it is your privilege that these things have to be brought to you rather than you actually having to live through them. Ignorance is nothing compared to our reality. 

Employers should write these tips down and keep them close. The above practices should be managed consistently. Standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter is a passion, not a trend. 

About The Author:

Dot McDonald is an actress/producer from Madison, WI. She received her bachelors in Fine Arts with a concentrating in acting from Howard University. She’s recently been seen in commercials, shorts films and most recently Laff Mobbs Laff Tracks on TRU TV.

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