The events that have taken place in America over the past month have paved the way for a global conversation about race, diversity and the injustices faced by minority groups. Whilst the events were specifically centred on the experiences of African Americans, it is interesting to note one fundamental shift in particular.
Never before have corporations taken a collective stance and publicly declared efforts to tackle racism.
Now, that is new.
The amount of protests and conversations that are being had both online and in-person elude to a brighter tone of conversation this time around. Maybe, just maybe, we will be able to discuss how to effectively promote equality and diversity, and perhaps this time, for some of it to take root.
Collective decisions to promote equality and diversity
If you are amongst one of the workforces who have chosen to speak up about the injustices taking place and have taken steps to ensure it does not happen within your own teams, then kudos. If you are still on your way, this article will talk about useful and effective ways to promote diversity, so that our minorities can experience less racism, and escape the undercurrents of prejudice.
It is also equally important to recognise that these injustices do not only happen in the workplace but also in our schools, care homes and areas relating to vulnerable children. Moreover, it is increasingly important that we protect young people in care from these scarring incidents– they already deal with so much.
Utilizing the Race Framework
The Race Framework, which has been adapted by Stephanie Creary, is a great place to start. It’s perfect for management, both in the middle and at the top, and can help start a productive conversation about race at work or within residential children’s homes.
R – Reducing anxiety by speaking openly about race
No matter who you are, a social worker, a carer, senior staff members, commissioners, children in care, administrative staff, we should all feel comfortable when talking about race. Unfortunately, we aren’t there just yet, and many still feel awkwardness and tensions when discussing these topics. Even not taking into consideration someone’s race can be seen as racism. Moreover, if management can help their staff feel more at ease, by agreeing to norms everyone will observe before these conversations take place, a safe space can be built where conversations are confidential and productive.
A – Acceptance of the fact that anything related to race is either seen or unseen
People often have different ways of perceiving race, and one way to make it a standard part of diversity is to normalize it. Management speaking up about their positive and negative experiences around their own race’s visibility is a great place to start.
C – Calling for internal or external help
Employees or children in care should always have people they can turn to who are professional and have lots of knowledge on the matters at hand. Having someone staff can trust, or whom children who have experienced any form of inequality can go to when they need help, is essential.
E – Expecting that tools and frameworks are needed to work from
Managers shouldn’t go into these conversations empty-handed. Creating practical frameworks and tools to help employees feel like an important part of the conversation when talking about inclusion and equality is crucial.
Erasing Unconscious Biases
The RACE framework is a great starting point; however, we must be brutally honest with ourselves if we want to make a true impact. We all love to think we are not prejudice or objective, but unconscious biases can have damaging impacts on inclusivity, and lead to the ‘invisible’ side of inequality and racism becoming more visible.
The fact of the matter is, research reveals we are drawn to those who are similar to us. It’s when this goes too far that it can pose a threat to our workplaces and environments, causing people to become excluded and workforces to become less diverse.
Here are some practical ways we can combat unconscious bias to promote more equality and diversity-
- Know it exists: as long as you don’t think something exists, it can never come to the surface to be worked through and erased. By becoming more aware of it and how it impacts others can help make our decisions more intentional. Categorising the world around us helps us assimilate the vast amount of information that the brain can effectively process. Knowing we have this tendency can help us become more switched on to our unconscious biases and become more open.
- Create inclusive practices: whether you’re working with vulnerable children or adults, all of us can work on being more considerate. For example, valuing other’s time, not always sitting next to the same person at lunch, giving critique in a constructive manner are just a few things we can do to decrease unconscious bias.
- Take a breather – unconscious bias has been known to excel when things are rushed and decisions are made in a hurry, so step back and wait a moment to rethink things.
- Create a broader social circle – getting to know people from different cultural and academic backgrounds can help you understand others better and be more inclusive in general.
Starting from the roots, we can all do our part to help eradicate inequality, biases and racism to contribute to a more diverse and pluralistic society; One where we are given a more equal chance at success, treated fairly and made to feel valuable, despite our background.