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Info and guidance following the death of George Floyd

MODERATOR NOTE: I have merged two threads, below.

Hello

Following the horrific death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, I wondered if anyone had shared any guidance or information about racism with their employees?

It seems a very relevant time to send something out, but I'm not entirely sure what would be best to send.

If anyone has any suggestions I would be really grateful. We have employees in Australia and the USA too, so not something that is massively focussed on discrimination law in the UK.

Thank you

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  • I am not sure I would be jumping on this bandwagon no matter how well intended. Whilst this case has undoubtedly caught the public zeitgeist here and in the USA I would be wary of basing any communication on one such incident. Sadly there are a reasonable number of such incidents.

    We are seeing an increasingly violent response (from all sides) to this in the USA and it may well get worst in next few days.That may well overshadow the key message that all lives matter and any campaign you start to launch.

    Better to focus on a complete and balanced D&I strategy when the time is right for your organisation rather than risking looking like tokenism.

  • In reply to Keith:

    I was reading this website at the weekend. It brought home to me the huge size of the issue (so I am in no way downplaying it) just simply what an appropriate corporate response should be to be effective and actually make change happen rather than just doing something to be seen to be doing something.

    www.npr.org/.../a-decade-of-watching-black-people-die
  • I think this goes far deeper than sharing guidance on racism. A lot of the 'courses' on diversity give information but it doesn't have the impact of really addressing our own unconscious biases. I have never thought of myself as a person who discriminates but having some focussed time to address some of our challenges in relation to inclusion really shocked me. We had in-built practices over time that put up barriers to those we wanted to 'invite in'. Unless we all fundamentally address our biases nothing will change.
  • MODERATOR NOTE: I have merged two threads. The original title of this post was "Supporting BAME employees during the current global events".

    Hi There,

    I have been reading a piece of research that has found that the recent events in America are having a negative impact on BAME globally both psychologically and emotionally.

    Does anyone have any ideas of how we can support our employees at such a time?

    So far we are looking at sending out a statement to all employees showing solidarity and allowing employees Friday off as a time to reflect.

    Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.

  • Out of interest are you planning on closing down on Friday or just letting some colleagues have the day off to reflect?

    What sector are you in?
  • In reply to Keith:

    We are going to close the office for all employees.
    We are in the media sector.
  • In reply to Keith:

    Thank you Keith.
  • To throw another opinion out there - and I am aware its only one person and anecdotal (but aren't most of our experiences that shape our approach to things?!) - funnily enough a friend of mine who is from a BAME background asked me for some HR advice earlier. Her workplace have sent some links out to blogs, done this blackout social media post thats going around and has asked for more ideas for what they can do to acknowledge the situation. She said while its obviously coming from a good place, they've never done anything like this before and its making her feel singled out. She has also picked up (possibly wrongly I did point out) that peoples communication with her has changed in normal conversation (lots of "are you ok" head-tilty type thing in her view).

    She wanted to know if this is something she could give feedback on or will she seem ungrateful. I did say to absolutely give feedback!

    Of course it depends as for one person that feels this way there will be one that thinks its great. But it just made me think.

    Being perfectly honest it wouldn't cross my mind to suggest doing anything 'unusual', I'd like to think that a well timed "are you ok?" if its picked up that someone (particularly of BAME background) is feeling a little low at this time, is more meaningful.

    It is difficult, but I do think there is potential for something well intended to go down like a lead balloon.

  • In reply to Samantha:

    This aligns with my thinking. There's a careful, but difficult, balance between virtue signalling and genuine/authentic actions that needs to be struck. I think the latter is more likely to come about if you have a meaningful D&I strategy in place, supported and embedded at all levels of the organisation, which is driving for progress. This then provides a more natural foundation/springboard to respond and react as a company to events such as this.

    In reference to Samantha's input - I've heard similar sentiments from friends working for companies who changed their logo to rainbow colours for Pride month. Great that the company is demonstrating support, but in some cases their experience as a LGBTQ+ employee has not been wholly positive. Difficult when external corporate messaging doesn't align with how members of the same demographic of the workforce feel. Again, this is purely anecdotal and I have other examples of feeling more proud of changes to logos etc!

    I would always assume good intentions but it can be hard to strike the right tone, and people will react in different ways.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    2 Jun, 2020 14:55

    In reply to Chloe:

    Excellent points, Chloe.
  • It sounds a good idea but slightly misplaced action in terms of the UK workforce perhaps?

    As we all know, racism occurs in many other countries and is certainly not confined to BAME. And in some other countries the persecution takes the form of genocide. To me it doesn't feel fair or right that we protest about something which happens in America but not perhaps something that happens in other places with far worse records which resulted in either no action by the UK population, or have now been largely forgotten even though they are still happening.

    What kind of guidance would you intend sharing with your employees? Unless you sent them something incredibly new, interesting and something that is going to provide them with some new insight to the whole affair I think many employees would feel patronised.

    Having a 'day-off-in-protest', never had any practical effect when we went on strike and looking back I think I wasted my wages when we out out in sympathy over some death or some other grievance which happened in another company, even when that company worked on the same construction site or oil terminal.

  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    3 Jun, 2020 15:01

    In reply to Steve Bridger:

  • The climate is emotionally charged from the impact of CV-19 and the increasingly global spread of support for BLM has compounded this. As a black woman I am battling the dilemma of ‘how much and what can I do right now to feel like I’m making a difference - for my kids and my colleagues?’ Right now I can create an environment which supports people to ‘talk about race’. At work we’ve set up a series of virtual open discussions over the next couple of weeks for colleagues in the office and at home - to relate experience and contribute ideas for related activity. It’s a start. I’ll also be encouraging people to download Sandra Kerr’s “Let’s Talk About Race” booklet from the Business in the Community website.
  • In reply to Samantha:

    A focus of the BLM campaign is encouraging white people not to fear showing support. Black people will have differing levels of sensitivity to how this is done. So long as it’s genuine and not tokenism, I think it’s worth taking the risk and being prepared for an unexpected reaction rather then not showing support at all.
  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    As a member of a generation who, while at school, were taught paternalistic racism towards other nationalities, to treat women as the "weaker sex", and to respect my elders no matter what illogical and contradictory messages they were offering on whatever subject, I recognise very clearly the "good intentions, poor outcomes" pattern to many of the current events (internationally) and well intentioned but potentially even more divisive attempts to "put matters right".

    For example I remember with great clarity the time when (in the early '60s) I held open a door I had just walked through for a woman following, to be awarded not with a smile and "thank you", but a haughty frown and monosyllabic epithet: "Pig!" (Short for "Male, Chauvinist, Pig" a favoured insult towards discriminating men at the time). My gesture of common courtesy misinterpreted, my intentions distorted and an instant antipathy created, because now my opinion of her was coloured by her imposition of a stereotype on me, whereas had her response being different we would both have departed our transitory contact smiling and with mutual respect of each other's sociability.

    Exactly that same pattern is happening in the streets of Washington where peaceful protests are being met, not with political recognition of their just anger and distress, but with violent confrontation, tear-gas and oppression of fundamental rights so that a "photo-op" can be taken, or in a (not, regrettably, entirely unjustified) fear that the peaceful protest will be opportunistically use as an excuse for expressions of extremism and/or to loot and vandalise. Gross stereotypes are being imposed (by both sides) on a situation both could, with a different approach, walk away from smiling and rewarded; their rights recognised.

    Regrettably, we therefore do not help by seeking to create, with whatever good intentions, further identifications of "difference" whether tacitly in support of one or another political/sociological viewpoint of the current protests, or to universally re-balance what we impose as our view of "difference based" injustices in our society, because to individuals who do not consider themselves as discriminated against, "lumping them in" with those who are is just as discriminating as them genuinely being disadvantaged! (Just as I feel my spine straighten and eyes narrow a little when I am referred to as being one of "the elderly").

    Universally; not nationally, internationally or even locally, we do not need grandiose gestures; we do not need expressions of solidarity, we do not need tokenism, politically or in our everyday lives. We need to recognise and understand the reasons for the justified protests (be they in Washington over police brutality, or regarding pay-differentials in our own workplaces), while condemning those who drive the agendas of difference-based hatred and (justly) punishing those who use dissent as an opportunity for crimes such as looting, arson and other anti-social behaviours. Only then can we hope to establish a society where there is no need for protest; no need for concessions to "difference" no need for discussions like this one; because colour, race, sex sexuality, age and all the rest, will be as immaterial as the colour of our eyes or whether we like Marmite or not.

    So yes, it is right we support protests against injustice and do so publicly if we feel that needful in the current situation, but not if that itself supports the acceptance of "difference", and much less so if it imposes difference as significant to those we work (or socialise) with, when it was never so before.

    P