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8 Tactics For Conducting Courageous Workplace Conversations About Race

Source | | Dana Brownlee

In this time of renewed commitment to racial justice and workplace equity, many organizations are critically analyzing their practices, policies, and organizational culture through this new lens. Arguably, organizational cultures rarely change on their own without a significant jolt and that means that this moment requires boldness – bold action by companies, bold risks by leaders and oftentimes bold and courageous conversations in everyday workplaces. Changing the status quo may require questioning the way we’ve always done things, challenging traditional processes, reconsidering decision-making criteria and even calling out or pushing back on some comments and assumptions. While being bold might feel quite natural (even cathartic) for some, the truth is that it can be awkward and downright terrifying for others.

All that said, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thoughtful (even careful) with how you broach these issues or handle difficult situations when they present themselves. Too often though the most dangerous choice is to simply do nothing – say nothing because it feels uncomfortable. Indeed, claiming antiracism may be popular, but doing the work certainly isn’t easy so here are a few suggestions to consider when broaching difficult race related conversations.

1.     Pick the right time. If you just finished watching an intense documentary and are still reeling a bit emotionally, it’s probably prudent to take a step back and collect yourself before launching into a diatribe on the group’s questionable promotion practices. Rarely, do we choose the best words when we’re highly emotional. To be clear, it can be perfectly appropriate (even necessary at times) to display authentic emotion around this sensitive issue, but just make sure you’re in charge of your message and your emotion isn’t in charge of you.

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