The untimely murders of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Ahamud Arbery, and several Black Trans women, including Riah Milton and Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells has sparked protests and demonstrations around the world. Black people who have been showing up to work over the past few months have been experiencing and grappling with a multitude of different emotions. Employees and consumers alike have been looking to corporate leadership for guidance and an impactful public display of support for racial equity and justice. While many companies like Nike, Amazon, Twitter, Square, and more have issued public statements standing against systemic racism, some people have noted that within their organizations, there has been considerable silence.
During times of crisis, employees are looking to leadership for support. Some leaders may be silent during times of tragedy and unrest out of fear of not knowing what to say or how to help employees through their emotions. However, it’s essential to show up for employees who are suffering and trying to work through racism, showing up consistently within their community. Recently, our CEO, Christian Sutherland Wong, wrote a blog post on Glassdoor’s efforts to drive racial equity within our organization and beyond. As a company, we’ve also launched connection circles to provide our employees with the opportunity to speak openly about the recent racial injustices and how it’s been affecting them.
If you’re just one employee overwhelmed by what’s happening and agonizing over your company’s silence—whether in terms of a public statement, donation, an internal dialogue, a commitment to long-term action, or immediate support for Black employees—here’s what you can do.
Be transparent on who needs to step up in your organization to create some dialogue to spark change.
Too often, companies look to very the same people who are victims of violence and injustice for guidance. Instead of relying on your Black employees to solely guide the organization on what to say when addressing racial inequities and coming up with solutions, think first about whose responsibility it is to step up and ask the organization to do the same. Black employees should not be shouldering this burden right now, as this is a time for allies to call for attention and support their Black colleagues.
Understand that there’s strength in numbers.
You don’t have to approach senior leadership and your organization’s C-suite all by yourself about the need for your company to speak up about racial injustices. Start by finding who your allies are within the organization. You can then use those conversations with your coworkers to figure out what change you would like to see at your company and bring those ideas and clear asks senior leadership. When you approach senior leadership, be sure to come to the table with solutions and proposals for what you’d like to see at your company, such as holding an internal discussion, sending a company-wide email to acknowledge what’s currently happening in the world, making a public statement or donating to organizations that support racial equality.
Encourage and create community events to foster authentic communication and education.
Leverage the support and influence of your organization’s employee resource groups to foster community, if you have one. Lean on your ERGs to create internal discussions, events, and educational resources for your organization. Here at Glassdoor, our BUILD ERG has had the chance to engage with members of our executive and leadership group on the next steps that we can take as a company to make sure we are and remain an inclusive place to work. Later this month, we’ll be hosting an internal company discussion around the movie 13th, which traces the history of skewed legislation and mass incarceration of African-Americans. BUILD also supported the internal PRIDE ERG in their hosting of a film discussion about Marsha P Johnson, a Black trans woman who was instrumental at Stonewall and in the Pride movement.
Support your Black employees.
You don’t need a company directive from senior leadership or your manager to support your Black coworkers. If you aren’t Black, you can reach out to Black coworkers that you already have a relationship with and offer support in whichever ways are helpful (e.g., holding space for conversation or just acknowledging what’s currently going on.) Also, expect and accept that what feels supportive and genuine to one colleague may not land as well with another. Part of allyship is challenging yourself to take action and support others without expecting praise, attribution, or acknowledgment for doing so.