Board Coverting News, August 31, 2020

Race In The Workplace (CONT’D FROM PAGE 26)


the staff. Including them in the employee handbook and on the company intranet is a good start. In addition, em- ployees should sign statements that they have read the policies as opposed to just receiving a gloss about them during orientation. “Very often in court cases, people will deny they ever saw their employer’s policies,” says Gregg. Too, managers and supervisors need to buy into the policies and understand how to implement them. And they need to set the right example, avoiding remarks about modern-day societal events that might on the sur- face seem innocent but that can spark misunderstand- ings. “Managers have to be careful not to say things in the workplace that subordinates might take as evidence of bias,” says McDonald. “Comments about contemporary politics and culture can be especially risky. What the man- ager feels is freedom of speech an employee may take a different way.” McDonald gives the example of a supervisor who says something like this: “The immigration laws are too lax and I wish Trump would build that wall.” Making that state- ment in itself is not unlawful, says McDonald. However, the words might lead a Hispanic subordinate to feel the manager is biased against Hispanic people. If something negative should happen down the road to that employee, she might conclude it was the result of discrimination. Managers and employees alike need to understand the harm that can be contained in unthoughtful comments. “Sometimes people will say hurtful things without realizing they are hurtful,” says Campt. “And then very often they feel that because they did not intend to hurt anyone, no one should feel that way. So, part of what can be inculcat- ed in a culture is an awareness that both intent and impact matter. Embracing that fact can be a useful conflict reso- lution tool.” Enlightened communications and respect toward oth- ers, combined with a carefully designed and implemented diversity and inclusion program, can obviate racial resent- ments and foster a more collegial atmosphere. The result can be more effective teamwork, a more efficient work- place and a more profitable business.


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Phillip M. Perry is an award-win- ning business journalist with over 20 years’ experience. A three time recipient of the American Bar As- sociation’s “Edge Award” for edi- torial achievement, hs byline has appeared over 3,000 times in the nation’s business press.

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August 31, 2020

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