Don’t let new hybrid workplaces keep old systemic racism – TechCrunch

Systemic racism is not new to America, and the effects of unconscious racial bias have long created inequalities in the workplace. So why – when presented with the task of developing new “normal” hybrid workplaces – do we allow the same systemic issues to exist that have excluded generations of blacks and browns from the workforce?

We must bravely face this problem with all the tools we have now while we still have a unique chance to shape the foundation for what is being built.

Statistics help tell the story of the glaring disparities in the economic situation of black and white families. The typical black household earns only 57 cents for every dollar earned by white families, and the median wealth for black families is only $ 17,000, compared to $ 171,000 for white families. Black families also suffer from lower annual incomes, earning about $ 29,000 less per year, on average, than their white counterparts. Their children are three times more likely to grow up in poverty and stay that way for life. There is also a dismal wealth gap when it comes to homeownership: only 42% of black families own their homes, compared to 73% of white families.

I recently shared this data with lawmakers on the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee of the US House Financial Services Committee. The hearing, “The Legacy of George Floyd: A Review of Financial Services’ Commitments to Economic and Racial Justice,” specifically addressed the negative economic impact of systemic racism in the financial services industry. Everything from skewed lending practices to the imbalance in the distribution of philanthropic dollars has massive economic ramifications.

Equity cannot be fully achieved by simply donating money to external partners, such as my organization, the National Urban League. While I’m the first to say that the league and many of my colleagues on the pitch do a great job, too many companies rely on us alone to change the world.

Actions speak. Entrepreneurs need to help their employees go through proven training programs that show the true impact of their unconscious biases. Startups need to look inward and ensure their organizations are diverse, inclusive, and fair places for employees and their customers.

But this requires internal work. And in some cases, outside voices. We’ve seen companies like Comcast NBCUniversal, Charter Communications, and T-Mobile create external diversity and inclusion boards with independent leaders to advise and help advance common goals.

Promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DCI) is not just the right and moral thing to do for entrepreneurs. It also makes economic sense. Companies that emphasize internal diversity are more profitable because they can successfully attract more diverse markets. Ethnically diverse businesses are 35% more likely to outperform less diverse businesses.

To be sure, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted and profoundly altered many aspects of working life, including face-to-face diversity training and workforce development.

As more workplaces shift to a hybrid model of remote and in-person working, it’s time to put IED on the back burner and rethink inclusion programs to incorporate cutting-edge technology to reach employees wherever they are.

Businesses must start now. But you don’t have to start from scratch. The resources already exist and there are a multitude of external partners who can help improve corporate culture and diversity metrics. With a deep and nuanced understanding of the issues at stake, civil rights organizations are uniquely positioned to support the management of the DCI business by providing strategic advisory services, executive coaching, DCI subject matter expertise and DCI strategy development and planning. For example, we have the lessons we have learned in our 111 years of working to connect diverse communities with opportunity, and we are integrating those lessons with new technological advancements to advise our partners.

Thus, groups like the National Urban League have successfully collaborated with public and private partners on issues of diversity, inclusion, fair employment, equity and parity. While these conversations can be difficult at times, companies that intend to tackle these issues should do so head-on.

Here are some ways founders can usher in a more inclusive startup culture in a hybrid work environment.

VR training programs

Virtual reality technology is one of the latest additions to the DCI training toolkit to facilitate sometimes difficult discussions. Virtual reality scenarios can be used to train a large group of people in a cost effective manner.

By donning a VR headset, individuals can participate in an immersive training experience where they can engage in a conversation about race and inherent prejudice without fear of judgment or retaliation.

For example, Moth + Flame, a Brooklyn-based virtual reality development and production studio, has previously developed successful DEI programs for the U.S. Air Force and Accenture, where users enter a simulated real environment to practice challenging conversations using their own voices. . This innovative technology offers a deep level of immersion that creates a lasting emotional impact for employees.

The beauty of VR is that it lends itself well to in-person situations and can be used effectively with remote employees as well. In a hybrid workplace, virtual reality ensures that all employees leave with a consistent training experience, regardless of their location.

Professional and workforce development programs

Programs can be developed for American startups to connect recruiting teams to historically black colleges and universities and other institutions serving minorities. These programs include supported and hosted online job sites, career fairs and workforce development initiatives.

But it’s not enough to have diverse faces at the door – it’s only diversity. Founders need to invest in their employees of color by enabling them to participate in professional development programs to create the next generation of executives – that’s fairness. This is even more critical with a dispersed workforce, as a divide in the employee experience can become more pronounced when some groups work in the office and others stay remotely. Workers may feel left out, alone or simply out of the loop. Professional development programs encourage employee engagement and signal that the company is investing in their personal and professional growth, no matter where they are – that is inclusion.

Diversity of suppliers

With the return to a certain level of activity in the office is also accompanied by the return of dependence on suppliers, such as travel agents, catering service providers, event production companies, etc. As companies seek new suppliers to build their new hybrid work environments, they should work now to create a framework for establishing a diverse supplier network, selecting current suppliers, and sourcing new suppliers.

Based on my experience, many companies consistently cite the difficulty in finding diverse suppliers as the main obstacle to promoting such diversity. To remedy the problem, BidConnect United States created a centralized business network platform that connects businesses and government agencies with small businesses, aggregates online events, and creates a tool to foster ethical practices and economic inclusion.

Recognize, evaluate, measure

Without employees meeting in the same office day in and day out, it can be more difficult for staff to feel progress towards a positive corporate culture change. This is where the numbers and accountability come in.

Startups need to transparently determine which metrics they want to integrate to measure diversity within their organization. With fairness more of a priority than ever for employees, consumers, investors and activists, there have never been greater risks and costs for delay or greater rewards and benefits for leadership.

Management leadership for tomorrowThe Black Equity at Work (MLT) Certification Program empowers employers who take rigorous measures to minimize inconvenience and maximize benefits by ensuring major and sustained progress in black equity and providing valuable recognition.

The MLT program is not another commitment, clue, or push for disclosure. It is a unique, affordable improvement system that includes a meticulously developed scoring rubric that quantifies overall black equity progress; planning resources and support that allow employers to chart their own course on their schedule; a range of valuable services that guarantee and accelerate results; and a high degree of trust and a guarantee of strict confidentiality. Socializing hard data to measure progress towards diversity goes a long way in shaping corporate culture.

Achieving full racial equity and inclusion will not be easy. It requires the firm commitment of all sectors of our civil society. Government entities, startups, private and public companies and nonprofits must ask uncomfortable questions, tackle inequalities head-on and resolve to change practices and policies so that all have an equal opportunity. to live a full and prosperous life. With the right programs in the hands of dedicated employees, we could get there a little faster.

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