3 things company leaders should understand about race, protests and the workplace – Technical.ly

Posted: June 25, 2020 at 3:45 am


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Corporate America is complicit with this culture of racism.

Benish Shah, the New York-based chief growth officer for business gifting company Loop & Tie, minced no words in sharing her insights on race, protests and the workplace with Palette Group founder and Creative Director Nate Nichols during Thursdays Allyship and Action Summit, a virtual conference of panels, fireside chats and breakout rooms designed to find solutions for diversity and inclusion in advertising.

A former Philadelphian, Nichols and his colleagues came up with the idea for the summit and its accompanying pledge for action on June 2, a day known to many social media users as Blackout Tuesday. With discussions on race and equity, the summit was designed to educate professionals of all backgrounds on antiracism practices.

In addition to raising awareness for allyship and action in the advertising industry, companies are being invited to sign a pledge for a more racially equitable industry, and their progress will be tracked via the Allyship and Action website.

Were developing a technology platform that companies will use to post their latest evergreen or tentpole campaign projects, Nichols told Technical.ly via email. Theyll upload their staffing plans, well connect with the individuals that were on the project for them to self-identify and report that data back up to the companies page. Well have a minimum number of projects that must be equitably staffed for organizations to remain certified. The goal is to have brands and agencies be transparent and hold each other accountable.

Shah participated in one of the summits fireside chats with Nichols Thursday afternoon on how companies can support employees from diverse backgrounds in this moment. Technical.ly tuned in for their conversation and caught these three key takeaways:

Shah believes that white people should not be resistant to correcting themselves when saying improper things about race.

Its more about saying, I clearly said something wrong, Im sorry, how can I do better?' said Shah, who recently published some guidelines for discussing trauma at work. If you become defensive, you lose them. Dont make the trauma about yourself. Its about genuinely showing care and concern towards the person thats affected.

That self-awareness should apply to people of other races, too.

I am a person of color but not Black, she said. This moment of history is about Black people. As a brown person, its something we tell our brown friends all of the time: We have to step up our own empathy and own decentralizing.

Shah emphasized the need for offices to be spaces free of microaggressions and inappropriate comments.

If you are a person talking about microaggressions, you dont have a safe space. If the microaggressions are, Can I touch your hair? or Im almost as dark as you! or You got this job? all it does is make it easy for people to be racist without calling them racist, she said.

Intentions to create safe spaces without action arent enough: If you arent stopping these conversations its not the right answer.

For Shah, white leaderships buy-in to changing problematic office culture is a key component of shifting negative paradigm.

Dont rely on Black team members to all your questions, she said, emphasizing the accessibility of Google as an information resource. Create immediate change. The urgency of the moment is at the place where people are fearing for their lives on a constant basis.

Shah noted that actions like acknowledgement of racial strife are more important than words.

You also have to practice acknowledgement, she said. A statement from the company is cool, but are you actually talking about it with your team?

For further reading about how to talk about race at work, check out the latest episode of The TWIJ Show.

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3 things company leaders should understand about race, protests and the workplace - Technical.ly

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June 25th, 2020 at 3:45 am

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