In the United States we’re experiencing two crises simultaneously. Both are health emergencies, but neither are anything new for black and African American people. The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare our country’s racial disparity at a fundamental health level – our black communities are disproportionately affected in both rate of infection and death. Our nation’s policing and incarceration tactics yield equally grim statistics.
Everybody who can work these days is experiencing a heightened level of emotional stress, but even that is disproportionately distributed because of the realities mentioned above.
Work can be a respite of sorts from society’s ills, but only if our workplaces acknowledge and accommodate for the disproportionate number of stressors affecting our black team members. With acknowledgement comes solidarity. With accommodation comes action.
I implore every workplace to create unambiguous space for your team members to work through these challenges, especially for the black people with whom you work.
- You can create space in time via reduction in work-related pressures and by encouraging time off for mental health.
- You can create space in dialog by checking in one-on-one with each employee to listen to and share in their grief.
These small actions won’t solve our country’s racism. Rather, they’re a simple way to help employees process very difficult times. We may also find that small steps like these lead to larger organizational changes which our black coworkers see and need in our workplaces.
Thank you for striving to build healthier, happier workplaces … now more than ever.
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