CEO: 6 Questions Every CEO Should Answer to Achieve Racial Equality in the Workplace
“A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone” – Sundar Pichai , Chief Executive Officer of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google
If you are a CEO that wants to bring about a powerful change at the workplace to address issues of racial inequality the way they should be, then here are 5 powerful questions you need to answer. These questions will help you know where your company currently stands on the issue and what your next step should be.
Does Racial Equality Feature in your Company’s Most Important Values?
Racial equality needs to be a part of your company’s core principles for it to become infused into your work culture. Including racial equality in your company’s values communicates how strongly you feel about the issue.
Such inclusion proclaims your organization’s and your personal stance on the issue. Stating your stance is crucial to let your employees understand that instances of racial inequality will not be dealt with lightly at the workplace.
By supporting racial equality, you also make newer employees entering the workplace, especially those belonging to a different color and race, feel safer and more confident about their position in your company.
If your company does not have racial equality in its values, then you should try to understand the reason behind the exclusion. Find out how diversity is impacting your bottom line and how your company derives value from employees, customers, and other stakeholders of diverse cultural backgrounds.
When you become aware of the value that inclusiveness has imparted to your organization, you are more likely to realize its importance.
Does your Organization Maintain Diversity Data?
Statistics are important because they communicate that you are faithful to your cause. Data provides clarity on the penetration of diversity in your organization. Statistics throw light on how diversity is spread across each division within your company.
Numbers explain how diverse your teams are at different organizational levels. Data also presents facts about the diversity of your leadership team.
Such fact-based information reveals how inclusive your culture is, and gives insights into the availability of opportunities for career advancement for diverse employees across organizational levels.
Diversity in leadership demonstrates your organizational commitment. A diverse leadership also engenders belief in stakeholders that your commitment to racial equality would cascade throughout the organization – a diverse leadership will be more inclined to have racial equality programs and strategies in place.
Diversity data must also be transparent. As much as you include statistics that reveal the presence of diversity, you must also include organizational divisions where diversity has not penetrated yet. Transparency is crucial to inspire trust in employees and stakeholders.
How is Accountability Ensured?
You may have racial equality on your list of values and may have numbers to explain your organizational diversity. But what is really happening at the ground level is crucial.
What really happens when a racial discrimination issue occurs? Are your employees coming forward to complain about a racial inequality issue openly? How is the manager or the team leader accused of such racial discrimination held responsible? Are any steps taken to investigate the issue?
No matter how many rules you have in place, they do not show results unless people are held accountable for their actions.
Is there an effective Diversity Training Program?
Diversity training is crucial to make your employees, especially those at leadership levels, understand the importance and sensitivity of racial equality. A well-designed training program elevates the cultural consciousness of your employees and makes them truly understand why inclusion and the need for racial indiscrimination are the foundation for the success of any organization.
Training equips your employees with skills, including cultural awareness and emotional intelligence, to empathize with people of different backgrounds. In addition, training teaches managers to respond appropriately to crisis situations.
A one-time training can never be a lasting solution to your goal of creating an inclusive and racially-aware workplace. Continuous training is important to upgrade the skills and competence of managers and team members at every level.
How Open are you to Conversations on Racial Equality?
Your ongoing commitment to racial equality depends on your willingness to have continuous conversations on the subject.
• Do you have honest race-based conversations with your employees?
• Do you invite diverse employees to share their workplace experiences with you?
• Do employees feel free to talk about racial discrimination issues happening around them?
• Are your employees open about their commitment to racial inequality issues outside of the workplace, or are they afraid to share such experiences?
• Do you or your employees affiliate with organizations that offer support to racial equality programs or advocate the concept?
• Do you seek expert help on handling racial issues or seek a mentor’s advice in improving your personal and organization’s cultural consciousness competence?
Efficient Leadership is Key to Creating and Implementing a Successful Racial Equality Plan
Leaders planning to create and implement a new racial equality plan successfully, or looking to make their existing plan more actionable, need to imbibe certain leadership qualities to achieve their goal.
• Inspire Trust – Inspiring trust is important to make people believe in your strategy and support it. Stating your stance on racial inequality and backing your words with actions are important to inspire trust.
• Clear Communication – Clear communication is crucial to let people across the organization be aware of your company’s stance on racial discrimination. Communication is also important to convey to employees that unwanted behavior would carry severe consequences.
• Compassion - Compassion is essential to be able to relate to your diverse employees and connect with them. Compassion enables you to earn your employees’ trust in achieving your racial equality vision.
• Collaboration – Collaboration enables you to create a holistic racial equality plan. It brings people together and encourages them to put forth their opinions and views. Collaboration instills an attitude of ownership and accountability in your employees. Effective collaboration enables organizations to devise an effective solution that can root out racial inequality.
• Adaptability – A good racial equality plan is never rigid. The plan needs to be constantly reviewed and changed according to evolving needs. A leader entrusted with empowering an organization with an actionable racial equality plan needs to be flexible. Adaptability is necessary to change your racial equality policy to include new policies, programs, and management styles that bring about positive change. Adaptability is also important to be tuned to the changing needs of employees regarding racial equality policy.
• Transparency – Transparency at every level of design, creation, and implementation of a racial equality plan is crucial. Transparency imparts awareness, improves communication, and develops trust between the leader and the team.
• Listen and Learn – Listening enables you to learn more about your diverse employees and their issues. By listening, you can be more compassionate and relate better to them. Active listening earns you your employees’ respect and support.
• Innovation – Innovation is necessary to be ready for the future and beyond. A leader that is not afraid of questioning and changing the status quo is capable of devising true solutions for eliminating racial inequality from the workplace.
• Create Feedback – A true leader does not relax after implementing a racial equality plan. He or she will be keen on assessing the efficiency of the plan. Having an effective feedback system is crucial to improving the plan for greater efficiency. Clear communication is important to receive high-quality feedback, positive or negative, which can help you improve your plan. A good feedback system also conveys your sincerity and commitment to your goal.
• Lead by Example – Leading by example is crucial to show your commitment to promoting racial equality at the workplace. A lack of it leads to a disillusioned and demotivated workplace that fails to achieve your organizational vision.
CEOs and corporate leaders have the power to inspire people and impact change. An unwavering commitment - in words and action - to root out racial discrimination, is the need of the hour.
CEOs can steer organizations, and thereby the nation, in the right path, and effect positive transformation. Cultivating effective leadership qualities is fundamental to achieving such a transformation.
Name: Robert Moment
About the Author
Robert Moment is a dynamic results-driven certified executive, emotional intelligence, leadership and peak performance coach and author of High Emotional Intelligence for Managers and Executive Success Habits.
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