ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 34

COUNSEL COMPOUND

Addressing Racism in
the Workplace
By Jeff Leiter

I

have had telephone calls and email
exchanges with ILMA members
and others about navigating this
period of off-the-charts uncertainty.
Everyone has had to adjust because
of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it
has not been easy or without costs.
Then, George Floyd died under the
knee of a representative of an institution that is supposed to represent
each of us and is supposed to keep us
safe. The country, already struggling
physically, emotionally, economically
and politically from the COVID-19
pandemic, has become overcome with
grief, anger, confusion and further
division from another instance of the
mistreatment of a person of color by a
law enforcement officer.
On the day of Mr. Floyd's funeral
last month, I walked the several blocks
from my office to the site of the protests across from the north side of the
White House. I wanted to understand
if there is a way forward to transform
laws, policies and institutions to better
recognize our common humanity
while appreciating and valuing our
differences. I had responded a few days
earlier to an ILMA member's Facebook
post, stating I was raised to understand
that all people are created in the image
of God, and all are therefore of infinite
dignity, regardless of skin color. Racism
denies that fundamental human dignity,
including in the criminal justice system,
and it should be eliminated. What I
saw on the streets by the White House
was sustained anger against systemic
discrimination fueled by frustrations

34

JULY 2020

| COMPOUNDINGS | ILMA.ORG

over longstanding unaddressed inequities. What I did not hear, though,
were concrete ideas or plans toward
recognizing basic human dignity,
protecting life and property, and
eradicating racism.
What are the lessons from this
confluence of events roiling our society?
Companies do not exist within a
vacuum, and employees walk into
the workplace each day carrying the
emotions associated with these events.
As leaders, we need to involve our communities in openly addressing racism
through educational programs, events,
training and mentoring. It is the way
most of us can make a real difference.
But what about in the workplace? It
requires more than brief public statements by businesses opposing racism
and supporting peaceful protests. While
many of these statements have been well
received, others have been criticized as
hypocritical or opportunistic.
So, how do you initiate conversations
in the workplace about race? I have written columns in Compoundings discussing
anti-discrimination and equal opportunity statutes and regulations. This
column is not about procedures under,
or implementing, the Civil Rights Act
of 1964. Instead, it is about overcoming the fear and uncertainty when
discussing race. In many ways, it has
been ingrained in our psyches that the
workplace is not an appropriate place
to discuss racial inequalities and their
impacts. Further, while many employees
and managers insist they are colorblind,
such a viewpoint can problematic, in

part, since racism in the workplace is not
a new topic and because it is not hidden
from the person who is subjected to it.
In many ways, racism in the workplace
is no different than bullying or other
forms of harassment - that is, the
employee's belief that nothing will be
done by management, fear of victimization or retaliation, concerns with
confidentiality or fear of being labeled
as a troublemaker or having a "chip on
the shoulder." Racial silence becomes
the norm.
To address workplace inequities,
one suggestion is to create a "safe
place" where employees and managers
can talk openly and confidentially
about race, including how implicit
bias and microaggressions create an
exclusionary, rather than inclusive,
workplace. They also can discuss
what racism looks like, how they
have been affected by race-related
incidents, and steps the company
can take to decrease bias, enhance
worker cohesion and increase productivity. Such conversations will, no
doubt, be challenging, often requiring
one to leave judgments and "group
memberships" at the door. For some,
the conversations can become an
"awareness journey" of employees' daily
struggles. For many managers, they
will need to learn to listen with the
intent to understand, not to reply.
"Tell me more" or "What I heard you
say ..." becomes a critical part of the
conversation. The key is to understand
somebody else's perspective.
Continued on page 37


http://www.ILMA.ORG

ILMA Compoundings - July 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ILMA Compoundings - July 2020

ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - Cover1
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - Cover2
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 1
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 2
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 3
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 4
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 5
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 6
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 7
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 8
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 9
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 10
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 11
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 12
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 13
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 14
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 15
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 16
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 17
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 18
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 19
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 20
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 21
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 22
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 23
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 24
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 25
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 26
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 27
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 28
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 29
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 30
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 31
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 32
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 33
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 34
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 35
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 36
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 37
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 38
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 39
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - 40
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - Cover3
ILMA Compoundings - July 2020 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G126213ILMA_vol71_no6
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G125546_ILMA_vol71_no5
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G124996_ILMA_vol71_no4
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G123886_ILMA_vol71_no3
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G123315_ILMA_vol71_no2
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G122980_ILMA_vol71_no1
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G121540_ILMA_vol70_no11
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G120882_ILMA_vol70_no10
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G120035_ILMA_vol70_no9
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G121XXX_ILMA_vol70_no8
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G120XXX_ILMA_vol70_no7
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G119XXX_ILMA_vol70_no6
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G118112_ILMA_vol70_no5
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G117382_ILMA_vol70_no4
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G116888_ILMA_vol70_no3
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G115555_ILMA_vol70_no2
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G114774_ILMA_vol70_no1
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g110500_ILMA_vol69_no12
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g110500_ILMA_vol69_no11
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g110500_ILMA_vol69_no10
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g109884_ILMA_vol69_no9
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g109284_ILMA_vol69_no8
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g108494_ILMA_vol69_no7
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g107507_ILMA_vol69_no6
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g106483_ILMA_vol69_no5
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g105803_ILMA_vol69_no4
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g104743_ILMA_vol69_no3
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g103647_ILMA_vol69_no2
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g102869_ILMA_vol69_no1
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g101930_ILMA_vol68_no12
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g100836_ILMA_vol68_no11
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g99200_ILMA_vol68_no10
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g98468_ILMA_vol68_no9
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/g97711_ILMA_vol68_no8
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G96767ILMA_vol68_no7
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G95397ILMA_vol65_no6
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G94323ILMA_vol68_no5
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G93127_ILMA_vol69_no4
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G91785_ILMA_vol68_no3
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G90956_ILMA_vol68_no2
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G89146_ILMA_vol68_no1
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G87981_ILMA_vol67_no12
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G85409_ILMA_vol67_no11
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G83595_ILMA_vol67_no10
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G81672_ILMA_vol67_no9
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G80238_ILMA_vol7_no8
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G79388_ILMA_vol7_no7
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G78361_ILMA_vol7_no6
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G77448_ILMA_vol7_no5
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G75899_ILMA_vol67_no4
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G75036_ILMA_vol67_no3
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G72720_ILMA_vol67_no2
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G72220_ILMA_vol67_no1
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G70970_ILMA_vol66_no12
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G69813_ILMA_vol66_no11
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G67522_ILMA_vol66_no10
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G66343_ILMA_vol66_no9
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ILMA/G64859_ILMA_vol66_no8
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com