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Strengthening The Foundation of Trust for Black History Month 2022

First published on LinkedIn.


Last week I asked you all on Instagram about whether your team has conversations that promote a Psychologically Safe Workplace:


A psychologically safe workplace involves our ability to make those who we work with feel comfortable and safe in the work environment, whether in-person or remotely/virtually. When done right, an employee should be able to ask questions, speak up, and make mistakes without fear of retaliation, humiliation or discrimination. As a critical driver for high quality decision-making, a healthy work environment supports employees from the bottom up.


This year's theme for Black History Month is Black Health & Wellness. So how does this tie into psychologically safe workplaces? Well, there have been numerous examples over the past two years of BIPOC individuals being told, "You should speak to a therapist," when reporting acts of discrimination or racism in the workplace. The employee will not feel that they are receiving the support they need or that their claim is being taken seriously by those in leadership positions. Meanwhile, assumptions about their mental health or quality of work is in question. This does not lead to a feeling of a psychologically safe workplace.


For your BIPOC employees, having a strong foundation of trust is crucial for thriving in the workplace. Otherwise, how will you know where these employees stand within your organization?


#1 Self Educate Before You Participate


In order to take part in these conversations that promote psychological safety, you must first equip yourself with the language and skills. Self-directed ongoing learning is crucial, not just to the work in this space, but for your ongoing career growth.


New films/podcasts/books have been added to our resource list for Black History Month.


#2 Build a Routine


Strengthening a foundation of trust takes time. What are you CURRENTLY doing on a regular basis with your BIPOC direct reports? Since we're still around the start of the new year, there's still time to build new habits. Are you performing regular check-ins? Are you having those necessary continuous discussions about well-being and career growth?


As many of us continue to operate in a hybrid/remote work model, these conversations are increasingly crucial. Now more than ever, leadership is about being able to serve the needs of your employees by showing that you care about the "whole" person...and not just their work outputs.


#3 Dissect the Demographics


Let's not forget about transparency. This is where I like to roll my sleeves up and get into the nitty gritty with my clients. At this point, you may want to perform a DEI assessment (or equity audit) which will save your organization a lot of time AND money (especially if you're in a legal pinch)!!


Through this process, you'll find that some of the work is specific to Human Resources, but a bulk of the work extends to all corners of your organization. Consider also the intersectionality and non-visible traits of BIPOC individuals. Don't forget to report out the key findings from the assessment/audit to the rest of your organization, along with plans on how to address any gaps.


#4 Bring in a Guest Speaker/External Expert


This is the part that many get stuck on. Allocate a portion of your annual budget for hiring experts and guest speakers throughout the year. By doing so, you demonstrate that the leadership/management team cares about this subject matter and that it's a priority, just like all of your other company goals. You won't be able to move forward in your DEIB journey without the resources (people, time, budget) to support it. It's also why I coach my executive clients to work closely with the accounting/finance team once they're committed.


When there is trust, I promise you there will be mutual respect, high employee retention, engagement, motivation, commitment, innovation, creativity...the list goes on!


Until next month... Be well and stay safe & healthy!