What actions should leaders be making today to effectively deal with systemic racism?

On the podcast HBR Quarantined for Harvard Business Review, Joshua Macht and Adi Ignatius interview professor and author Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts.

Part of America’s deep trouble with race is the inability many white Americans have talking openly about it in professional settings. Dr. Laura Roberts brings this up saying that oftentimes, white people avoid the topic of race because they do not want to be perceived as prejudiced, so they enact strategic colorblindness. However, this silence can be dangerous. After speaking about the colorblindness many white Americans enact, Dr. Roberts references the following Martin Luther King quote “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Dr. Roberts continues by saying we need to acknowledge that we cannot view racism as just ‘out there’, but we have to be aware that it is ‘in here’, the effects of it are in our companies, and businesses.

Dr. Roberts has three items to turn this awareness of racism into actionable reform.

  1. Acknowledge: Being aware by engaging with lifelong learning and engaging with perspectives outside of your own individual experience.
  2. Affirm: Listening to others experiences without judgement or getting defensive to build relationships with teammates and within your organization.
  3. Act: Whether big or small, individuals are able to contribute to equity and justice through the investments and partnerships they are able to cultivate.

As Coaches, starting the conversation and listening to black voices and activists can help you understand the experiences of the black community. Additionally, having the courage to acknowledge that as individuals and institutions we are not perfect is a crucial first step to then being able to put in the necessary work for racial justice.

If you are interested in watching the full discussion, you can follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWKtw4uwZXk&feature=youtu.be

IOC's Tips of the Week are authored by Austin Matzelle