The weekly highlight: Building workplace inclusion and supporting Black employees

June 18, 2020

We know that 2020 has been a stressful year for employers, employees, and job seekers. So here’s a snapshot of something we’ve found useful or motivating. Whether it’s a tip for how to stay on top of work, or something to take your mind off the news, we hope it’ll be a positive and helpful way to round off your week.

An effective disability inclusion program needs to be part of a broader organizational commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. A strong inclusion program can encourage employees with disabilities — and all employees — to bring their whole selves to work.

Right now, many workplaces around the United States are speaking out against racial injustice through public statements and financial contributions.

And some workplaces are taking action to back up their statements. They’re reflecting on their own practices, and making plans for improvement. 

Companies with established workplace inclusion initiatives already know that this needs to be an ongoing process. But no matter where your company is on its inclusion journey, you can make meaningful change. 

This week, we highlight items focused on two questions:

  • Is our company constantly working toward being a more inclusive workplace? 

  • Are we doing all that we can to support our employees?

Building workplace inclusion

This Quartz article offers advice for company leaders seeking to build more diverse and inclusive organizations — leading to happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Kyana Wheeler, a strategist for Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, points out that while diversity is valuable, it can’t be the only goal:

“Any time you start with the end goal already in mind, you’ve lost your anti-racism effort,” says Wheeler. “Begin with: What might I learn so that I can imagine things differently?”

For example, a leader laser-focused on expanding their recruiting pool in four weeks might share a job posting widely, but a step back might have shown that job description was worded in a way that was discouraging applicants. “If you think it’s about one thing, I promise you, you’ll do the journey, you’ll learn it’s about something else,” says Wheeler.

Read more at Quartz. Advice includes starting where you are, acknowledging bias, and holding your company accountable.

Supporting Black employees

Here’s an article from Benefit News that offers ideas for employers looking to support Black employees:

“You see a lot of companies really focused on the external, which is amazing, but it’s not enough,” [says Lauren Aguilar, head of diversity and inclusion at Forshay]. ”What I’m seeing less of right now is leadership teams making a commitment to address issues of diversity and inclusion within the bounds of their own organization. This is such an important moment to step up and make that commitment, but only some companies are doing so.”

The article includes ideas for immediate action, as well as thoughts on long-term, sustainable strategies.

One thing you can do to support your employees right now? Offer your employees encouragement and flexibility to look after their mental and emotional well-being — and take care of your own, too. 

Remind all employees of your Employee Assistance Program and any other support resources that are available to them. The HBCU Disability Consortium offers some resources at Black, Disabled, and Proud that may be useful to you and your employees. 

Tara Drinks is an associate editor at Understood.


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