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On Friday, my CEO mentioned #AhmaudArbrey by name in her weekly all-company video message. It meant the world to me. Has your workplace acknowledged Ahmaud? Here’s why so few will & why they should reconsider that silence./1
78% of Black professionals say they’ve experienced discrimination and/or fear that they or their loved ones will. Yet 38% feel that their workplaces deem it unacceptable to speak about these experiences./2…
This isn’t what “bring your whole self to work” should look like. The lack of acknowledgement can feel deafening and contributes to low satisfaction & engagement and low commitment to the organization./3
Compound that with the unspoken inference that Black employees themselves must initiate conversations about race in order for them to happen & we have an outsized problem./4
Tragedies like Ahmaud’s murder offer up a pressure prompt for orgs to reshape these troubling dynamics. So, why aren’t org leaders & managers addressing him & the impact of his killing on Black employees?/5
Scenario 1: Folks are just now hearing about Ahmaud - At first blush, it's fair that leaders are just hearing about Ahmaud’s murder. His lynching was several months ago but the release of the video footage has brought his unjust death to the national spotlight./6
Certainly, there’s no ignoring the news now that arrests have been made… But if we dig a bit deeper, we should recognize that to be unaware of his death sooner is a manifestation of privilege. Most Black workers I know learned of Ahmaud days before their colleagues did. /7
I was on PTO when the video was released & I couldn’t escape the onslaught of posts about Ahmaud in my social media feeds./8
What explains this awareness gap between Black employees & their counterparts? Network diversity./9
My social feeds are full of Black folks & allies in the #DEI space who - through respective life experience & deep antiracism work - have sharpened their antenna for information that is relevant & consequential for the Black community./10
Managers & leaders can hone their barometers to more closely align with Black employees’ by diversifying their follows to include Black people./11
Diversify news sources to include a few thought leaders or media channels that cater to black people & workers. @ellmcgirt from @FortuneMagazine is a go-to for me./12
This is especially prudent for executive sponsors of Black employee resource groups, who typically don’t personally identify with their constituency. They should take active steps to key into the Black experience so they can respond expeditiously to tragedies like this one./13
Scenario 2: Folks heard about Ahmaud but didn’t consider or conclude that broaching the topic was a workplace issue. It is./14
These types of “events” are literal traumas for Black employees, which drains cognitive resources & diverts discretionary effort away from the work folks were hired to do. Ergo, workplace issue./15…
Additionally, if a workplace campaigns around “whole” or “authentic” selves & then fails to create space to confront what Black employees are experiencing, the discrepancy between word & deed jeopardizes Black employees’ organizational trust & commitment./16
What can managers & leaders do to recalibrate on what counts as “workplace relevant”? Deepen workplace interactions to invite more of the outside in. Many of us are working from home right now so let’s embrace the fact that the jig is up wrt the work-home divide./17
This means there’s no greater runway for getting more real about what we carry “into” the workplace. Tips here./18:
Scenario 3: Folks heard about Ahmaud & had an impulse to say something but were paralyzed by fear of saying the wrong thing./19
^Well, that right there is a thing to say. No one’s expecting allies to make things better in a situation like this. But saying nothing makes things worse by rendering Black employees & their experiences invisible. Say something so Black folks feel seen./20
There’s no passive way to cultivate an inclusive workplace, which means silence is complicity in the status quo. We have to increase our stamina for discomfort. We have to embrace a growth mindset about building equitable workplace cultures./21…
And to put things into perspective, while managers & leaders may be afraid of social awkwardness or rejection, Black folks are afraid to.../22
..jog #AmaudArbery, wear masks…, be home *during a quarantine* #BothemJean & #AtatianaJefferson, shop for essentials #JohnCrawford, read a book #KeithScott, sleep #AiyanaJones, live #FreddieGray, breathe #EricGarner. /23
These risks are not equal, so it’s time to pull up./24
This is the longest thread ever because Ahmaud’s life and legacy are worth exponentially more than 280 characters. Thanks for reading this far. I need to add another thread to finish.../25
...Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I will hug my two young black boys extra tight. Tight enough to pretend that my embrace can insulate them from hate. Long enough to forget for just a moment how terrifying it is for us - but especially them - to exist./26
I can’t stop thinking about Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud’s mother. Her baby was born on Mother’s Day 1994. And she will never hug him again. And I won’t stop grieving with and for her on Monday simply because I’m “at work.”/end
Just realized the auto filled hashtag is a typo. Darn it! Sorry. #AhmaudArbery
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