Racial justice: How businesses like yours can start becoming part of the solution

Racial justice: How businesses like yours can start becoming part of the solution

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As protests for racial justice and against police brutality continue to be staged in Kansas City, months after outrage was sparked by the killing of George Floyd, more companies are pledging their support for the Black Lives Movement on social media. However, since Floyd's death has reopened old wounds inflicted by similar instances in the past, people are quick to deem these announcements as performative at best and marketing ploys at worst.

This has made company leaders ask themselves a serious question: What does it truly take to be an ally of racial equity and agent of societal progress? This post explores two steps businesses like yours can take to start affecting meaningful change — as well as the tech tools you can use to fulfill these steps.

Implement blind hiring to increase diversity among your staff
A significant contributor to racial inequality is economic opportunity — and implicit bias in hiring processes tends to perpetuate the status quo wherein black, indigenous, and persons of color (BIPOC) lose out.

“Birds of a feather flock together” out of a sense of safety, familiarity, and the fear of the unknown “others.” However, this mindset not only locks out BIPOC from employment opportunities, but also brings about a homogeneity that limits points of views, experiences, and knowledge that could foster innovation in your organization. Therefore, it would be beneficial to remove implicit bias from the hiring process as much as possible. One effective way to do this is via blind hiring.

Anonymize resumes
Organizations can take out unconscious (or conscious) bias as a factor by removing candidates’ personal information from resumes. Information indicating an applicant’s race, gender, and age — such as name, address, and the college they graduated from — are removed so that recruiters can focus on the applicant’s knowledge, skills, and potential fit in the company.

Did you know?
Studies have shown that among identical resumes, applicants with White-sounding names are granted 30% more callbacks than those with Black-sounding names.

Manually removing information can be time-consuming and extremely difficult to do, which is why recruitment specialists recommend that companies use software to anonymize resumes.

Use pre-hire tests
Historically, it was orchestras that first implemented blind hiring in the form of blind auditions. When looking for new members, orchestras had applicants play their instruments behind a curtain. In this way, all that panels could evaluate the applicants’ abilities and nothing more. By holding blind auditions, the number of female members in predominantly male orchestras increased.

To increase racial diversity among their staff, organizations can do the same thing by assigning anonymizing IDs to applicants and having them accomplish skills and personality tests remotely. Again, just like with anonymizing resumes, blind pre-hire tests are difficult to accomplish without specialized software or a service provider that will facilitate the tests for you.

Create safe spaces where people can openly share their experiences of racism
Employees who don’t report race discrimination, be it overt (e.g., being called racial slurs) or subtle (e.g., always being assigned difficult tasks, always being bypassed for promotions) are justified when they say they are afraid of retaliation. As per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, retaliation is their highest reported offense.

Because of this, organizations would do well to:

  1. Create employee resource groups (ERGs) where BIPOC employees can come together virtually or in person to socialize, seek support, and talk about issues in the workplace.
  2. Provide channels through which BIPOC ERGs can relay reported issues to management.

In addition, the entire organization can benefit from town hall meetings, where professional facilitators guide discussions about systemic racism, toxic work culture, white guilt, and other concerns that your employees may have. In this tumultuous time, people may be angry, indignant, in denial, or fearful — and openly communicating sentiments and concerns without tolerating racist and sexist views can foster a corporate culture that promotes racial justice.

Since COVID-19 is still keeping your employees away from one another, apps such as Google Meet, Slack, and Zoom can be used to build the communication lines you need. Furthermore, you can create company wikis to compile resources about company policies and racial justice best practices. Unlike with blind hiring, you don’t need specialized tech tools to create safe spaces, but you do need experts to help you create the diverse and inclusive workplace of the 21st century.

Similar to technological advancement, societal progress is achieved via continuous improvement. Use IT as a tool that helps your organization journey toward racial justice. Talk to our specialists at Umbrella to learn more.

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