One year into the pandemic, the wave of attacks against the Black American and AAPI communities and the persistence of health inequities and disparities continue.
For some, it took a worldwide health crisis to shine a light on such injustice. For others, it has only served as a stark reminder of the traumatic realities of racism and the resulting inequities in our society.
While the conversation and resulting actions have primarily focused on support and solidarity, if we’re truly focused on the goal of equity, the events of recent weeks reinforce how we as people, companies, employees and citizens need to move beyond the acknowledgment of racial inequity and disparity and focus on the specific policies, decisions and behaviors that will help move us from awareness to reconciliation.
So how do we get there?
- Call It by Its Name: The events that we’ve borne witness to are crimes founded in xenophobia and racism that impact the lives of our colleagues, friends, families and communities. By standing in solidarity, supporting the AAPI and BIPOC communities, we need to be honest and authentic about what these acts/events truly are and recognize the importance that language plays in the description/framing of these events and the narratives associated with them. No sugarcoating or diminishing the cause.
- Focus on the Context: We must highlight the history of xenophobia against BIPOC communities, such as the AAPI community, and the way disease has been used to denigrate and discriminate…and connect it to the importance of learning/educating ourselves and building cultural competency/attunement – a core element of our pillar.
- Cultivate and Drive Empathy: We must ensure psychological safety and facilitate understanding and different forms of engagement…especially today as we continue to work and live in various forms of isolation. Cultivating safety and community in all of the spaces we occupy, including work, has become even more important…and the creation/cultivation of those could help drive empathy and different forms of engagement that can help inform how companies show up vis-a-vis DE&I and work toward their equity goals.
- Hold a Mirror Up: Any chance of a significant change must begin with an honest assessment of your personal and organizational tenets, purpose, efficacy, policies and culture. Where is bias or disparity apparent in the business? What are people allowed to get away with? How is respect and dignity and inclusion supported?
With the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd on the horizon and the “great awakening” that dominated our consciousness, we are all being called to dig deep, assess and modify our actions. Ultimately, there are core tenets of DE&I engagement that can help guide and inform, but, in the end, it begins and ends with each of us. It’s not about getting mad or even. It’s really about growing, sharing, listening and respecting each other for who and what we are as human beings.
In the words of Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”