There is a lot of talk these days about the need for organizations to build a race equity culture.
But what does that actually mean? And where can your workplace begin?
Understanding Racial Equity in the Workplace
In general, racial equity means that every individual, regardless of race, has the same access to stable housing, healthy food options, job opportunities and other public services that enable them to live happy and healthy lives.
In the workplace, racial equity is about ensuring that everyone has a fair opportunity to start, advance and succeed in their careers, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Creating a race equity culture in your workplace involves creating an environment where every employee – regardless of race, identity, job position or socioeconomic status – feels safe and comfortable discussing race, racism and structural inequity.
According to Race Forward, “racial equity is both an outcome and a process.” To achieve the outcome of racial equity, we must ensure that those most impacted by systemic inequity are involved in the discussions and decisions that impact them. Open and honest conversations will help everyone understand the impact they have on colleagues’ lives and work together to address any disparities or inequities.
There’s no quick or easy way to achieve a race equity culture, but by making concentrated efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace, you can make your workplace stronger and better equipped to meet the challenges within and outside your organization.
Recognizing Signs of a Lack of Race Equity
There are a few signs that your organization may not be doing enough to achieve race equity. These include:
- Having a lack of diversity among employees
- Excluding people of color from key decisions or conversations
- Ignoring the impact of racism on people’s lives
- Supporting characteristics of a white supremacy culture, including individualism, defensiveness, power hoarding and more
If you notice any of these signs in your organization, it’s important to consider the following steps to address them.
Steps Toward a Race Equity Culture
Below are some steps to consider as your workplace begins its race equity journey.
Conduct a racial equity analysis
The first step in creating a race equity culture is to conduct a racial equity analysis to help you identify any disparities or inequities that exist in your organization.
To do this, you’ll need to collect data on the demographics of your workforce and compare it to the demographics of the population you serve. You’ll also need to look at outcomes, such as who’s being promoted and who’s being disciplined, to reveal any underlying patterns or disparities.
Once you’ve collected this data, you can start to identify any disparities or inequities. This will help you create a plan for addressing these issues.
Address any disparities or inequities
Once you’ve identified where there are disparities or inequities, you’ll need to take steps to address them.
This might involve changing policies or practices, providing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training or hiring a more diverse demographic of employees.
Whatever your plan is, it’s important to be intentional about creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace.
It’s also important to clearly identify what you plan to accomplish and regularly track, assess and report on your efforts to ensure you are having the intended impact and keeping your colleagues and stakeholders informed of progress and challenges.
Create a plan for sustaining a race equity culture
Creating a race equity culture is an ongoing process absent of a true end date.
To sustain this culture, you’ll need to:
- Create a safe space for conversation. You can create a safe space for employees to talk about race by:
- Providing training on how to have difficult conversations about race
- Encouraging employees to speak up when they witness inequitable treatment
- Creating policies and procedures that prohibit racism and discrimination in the workplace
- Addressing any incidents of racism or discrimination immediately
- Provide regular ongoing DEI training so that everyone, including new employees, can continue to learn and grow
- Create a transparent policy/mechanism to discuss, report and address identified inequities
- Regularly report on your efforts and the challenges/outcomes of this work to your employees, partners and stakeholders
By taking these steps, you can begin to create a race equity culture in your organization that will help everyone feel safe, comfortable and valued.
A More Inclusive, Equitable Workplace
Building an organization-wide race equity culture takes time, effort and commitment.
By taking steps outlined in this article to create a safe space for employees to talk about race, address any disparities or inequities and commit to continuously monitoring and improving race equity, you can make a difference in your workplace.
If you’re unclear on where to start, consider talking to a DEI consultant or undergoing training on how to have difficult conversations about race with colleagues.
Whatever you do, remember that everyone has a role in building a race equity culture and creating a more equitable workplace for all employees.
Supporting Nonprofit Organizations
We believe that by granting to nonprofit programs that support DEI training and racial equity for San Diego’s community, we will help improve awareness and understanding of discriminatory practices and their negative impacts, leading to a more inclusive region.
This year, we granted $150,000 to Teach for America San Diego, in support of Alumni Innovation, a pilot initiative to recruit and place 30 teachers of color throughout three to five school districts in San Diego County. By increasing the number of teachers of color in key school districts, we are helping to build a more representative classroom environment and promote race equity culture within our school system.
This is just one example of how we are advancing racial and social justice in the region through our Strategic Plan work.