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Diversity and Inclusion
It shouldn't be treated as a once-a-year thing
It’s Black History Month, so it’s the one (and shortest, BTW) month of the year in which online streaming feeds specifically recommend work by Black Americans to those who don’t usually have a healthy dose in their media diet. For example, Amazon now has a “Black is remarkable” section that for some reason includes a recommendation to buy something called a “mayo knife.”*
So there’s that.
As leaders, we need to be role models, and we need to be allies—this month, and every month.
Make sure that your business is recruiting in ways that encourage historically underrepresented groups to apply.
Make sure your business does not have discriminatory practices on the books. Some places still have rules about “professional” dress and grooming practices that discriminate against natural hair, for example.
Believe your people when they come to you with an issue or problem. Too often, those who are not part of a group or category see those who are as “too sensitive” to micro-aggressions and other problematic behaviors in others. Don’t be that boss.
Please—please—don’t say insensitive things like “I don’t see race.” It’s tremendously disrespectful to try to erase a part of someone else’s identity. It’s patronizing and offensive, and is often interpreted like you are saying, “Let’s pretend that I think that your group is just as good as my group!” It also negates the real and lived experiences of people in 21st-century America. Just because you “don’t see race” does not mean that the Black person to whom you are talking has not been called offensive slurs, or been told to set “more realistic” career expectations, or been stopped by police for DWB (Driving While Black), or been followed around a store by the clerk, or a myriad of other potential life experiences that you may not have had.
I do not know what is like to be Black in America. That is not my lived experience. But I can do my part to make the small corner of the world I influence a place where everyone feels respected and valued. I urge you to do the same.
* I’m sure that mayo knife probably was included because it was created by a Black-owned business or something. But I’m still wondering about it.