Diversity Woman Magazine

FAL 2017

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/876458

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Page 77 of 79

76 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N Fa l l 2 0 1 7 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Conversations with Catalyst A t this point, the country feels quite divided in a number of ways. A rise in hate crimes targeting racial/ethnic minorities has disturbed many, while others claim overreaction. Some assert that police forces are woefully underresourced and need additional support, while others protest police shootings committed within unarmed communities of color. How can companies let their employees know that they are valued, in spite of the difer- ences that divide the country? Business leaders should be aware that, at this point, many people of color do not feel safe. In particular, the spate of police shootings of African Ameri- cans has left many feeling shaken and vulner- able. Oftentimes, these feelings are carried by employees into the workplace. It's important to consider that influence starts from the top of the organization and, laudably, many progressive companies have supported diversity and inclusion within their workforces. For example, in 2015, several CEOs of major companies filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court, in support of the use of affirmative action in postsecond- ary institutions. Yet, when employees come into the work- place, relatively few work environments allow them to bring their "whole selves" to work. e Catalyst report, Emotional Tax: How Black Women and Men Pay More at Work and How Leaders Can Take Action, highlights the guard- edness that African Americans—particularly women—often feel in the workplace. ey also report feeling a sense of vigilance given their expectation that they will face stereo- typing at work. ere are parallels between police shootings of African American civilians and instances of stereotyping and double standards in the workplace. In a recent episode of e Daily Show, host Trevor Noah commented on the acquittal of a Minnesota policeman for the fatal shooting of motorist Philando Castile. Katherine Giscombe, PhD Noah shared the popular assumption that videos of police shootings would resolve any ambiguities and result in justice being served. Yet, a jury watched the video of Castile following the officer's instructions and saw the officer kill Castile—and still voted to acquit the officer of manslaughter. Noah observed that "black" and "dangerous" were linked in the jury's minds: "What they're basically saying is, 'In America, it is officially reasonable to be afraid of a person just because they are black.'" Underlying the officer's actions are double standards—which, in my opinion, the jury basically confirmed through their acquittal. ere are parallels between these situations and workplace dynamics. Societal double standards regarding African Americans began many decades ago. For exam- ple, a recent study by Georgetown Law's Center on Poverty and Inequality has highlighted the stereotyping of young African American girls as older and "less innocent" than their peers, which can influence others' treatment of them in educational and justice systems. Much evi- dence also exists regarding the greater instance of discipline at schools directed at African American children, leading to the "school-to- prison pipeline." Business leaders should ask: Does my com- pany's talent system ensure fair treatment of employees? Are there instances of double stan- dards and biases in my organization, regardless of the written policies on such matters? If so, the company's leadership bears the responsibility of rooting out such discrimina- tion. Without attention to this matter, the divisive dynamics of the country may very well play out in the workplace, with deleteri- ous efects on employees' morale, retention, and innovation. DW Katherine Giscombe, PhD, is Catalyst's Vice President and Women of Color Practitioner, Global Member Services. Business leaders should be aware that, at this point, many people of color do not feel safe. Point of View > ABOUT CATALYST Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit organization accelerat- ing progress for women through workplace inclu- sion. With operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, Australia, and Japan, and more than 800 sup- porting organizations, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. catalyst.org. A Country—and Workplace—Divided What business leaders need to know

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