Last summer SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) released the report The Journey to Equity and Inclusion. It was at a time when the country was reeling from the aftermath of George Floyd’s brutal and senseless death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Not the first egregious event to ever occur but the sheer brutality—and senselessness—of his death captured the nation’s attention like no incident ever before.

This caused corporate America to give some serious consideration to the role they play or could play, in minimizing ongoing racial tensions in the country. Clearly, it’s important for organizations to understand how to manage diversity in the workplace. 

Amid this environment, SHRM issues a new initiative—Together Forward @Work, calling upon HR and the business community to tackle racial inequity in the workplace. It is an effort, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM’s president, and CEO said that is designed to “show that better, more-inclusive workplaces not only equal better business results, but also a better world.”

Establishing a Baseline

SHRM instituted research to assess the sentiment of active SHRM members from June 11-17; 1275 members responded representing organizations of all sizes—from two to more than 25,000 employees. The results yield some surprising, and ultimately useful, insights into the sentiment of HR professionals of all types on how to manage diversity in the workplace. 

Consider conducting a similar assessment in your workplace to see how your HR, managers’, and employees’ responses compare. You can then evaluate the type of training that might be needed to move the needle in the right direction.

How Can You Support Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Today’s Workplace?

This guidebook provides discussion resources and exercises to help you promote a culture of respect and inclusion in the modern workplace.

Startling Disconnects

There are some startling disconnects and differences in perception revealed by the results of this survey. For instance:

  • While 49% of Black HR professionals feel that discrimination based on race or ethnicity takes place in their workplaces, only 13% of White HR professionals said the same. 
  • 61% of Black HR professionals said that there is incivility in their workplace; only 44% of White HR professionals said this was true (although we’d note that 44% is still a large number!)
  • 45% of Black workers said their workplace discourages the discussion of racial justice issues; 30% of White workers said the same.
  • When asked whether their organization was doing enough to provide opportunities for Black employees, 35% of White HR professionals said they were not—68% of Black HR professionals said the same. 

It’s clear that there is opportunity to generate discussion and conversation around these issues to learn more about these varied perspectives and what drives them. Organizations have an opportunity to lead this effort SHRM believes.

Talking About Race at Work

One clear finding from SHRM’s research is the hesitancy to discuss racial issues in the workplace. Yet, without discussion, there is a lack of understanding of the BIPOC experience. Without understanding, there can be no appropriate actions or interventions. 

According to the SHRM report: “The onus is now on organizations to be part of the solution, which will go a long way in alleviating workers’ concerns about inaction—especially Black workers who feel discrimination on a more personal level.”

SHRM offered three suggestions for beginning these conversations:

  • Listen—don’t conflate, compare or contrast. “We must listen to others with an open mind, hearing their story without injecting ourselves into it.”
  • Discuss—don’t debate. “Setting up discussion rules is important so conversations don’t take a turn for the worse.”
  • Set goals and honor feedback. SHRM recommends treating “open discussions about race as you would discussions of job performance”—avoiding blame and, instead, focus on behaviors.  

We all need to do better, together. 

Not Just an HR Mandate

It’s important to note that changing the DEI climate in the workplace isn’t just an HR mandate—or the work for senior leadership. When tackling any kind of negative behaviors or harassment, it’s work for all of us. Managers, in particular, play a key role as they interact within their areas of influence. 

While we need HR to improve the frequency and the quality of conversations regarding racial equity, we also need to train managers to do the same. That’s certainly a role for HR and an opportunity to drive needed change. The right kind of training can build a culture of belonging

Ultimately, SHRM says: “The goal is zero tolerance for racism.” 

If that’s the desired outcome, what do you need to do to get there?

Diversity & Inclusion Training

Diversity, equity, and inclusion training for the modern workplace can be challenging. EVERFI presents unique experiences of real people to explore key concepts such as identity, power, privilege, and communication.