by Neil R. Goodman
Originally published: August 2, 2017
If you are responsible for training that promotes individual and organizational performance, what can and should you do to address racism in the workplace? Organizations wishing to take advantage of the improved innovation and productivity that results from increased inclusion and diversity hope to resolve these issues with quotas or a program on “unconscious bias at work.” However, when it comes to addressing race, there is a drift into a safer place.
Attempts to cover up the topic of racism add no value to your organization or community. Those organizations that are willing to have courageous conversations about racism gain from having a more engaged and committed workforce where everyone feels they belong. Such an undertaking must be done in a safe environment and led by an experienced facilitator who knows how to teach people “how to swim in the deep water.”
The need to focus on racism, in particular, is essential if organizations wish to ever be inclusive. Racism is a prejudice or act of discrimination against someone based on biological factors—in the United States euphemistically referred to as “people of color.” While there are hundreds of potential racial characteristics, the predominant one in the United States is skin color. The avoidance of having an open discussion about race in organizations and communities must be addressed if inclusion is going to be achieved. Here are a few examples from the field where training programs drifted away from dealing directly with the implications of racism.