Women of color should not have to step on eggshells to navigate the corporate world’s racist biases toward them, yet this is a consistent experience for many BIPOCs. It’s time to consider how we can address racial biases and microaggressions in our workplace to intentionally add inclusivity, diversity, and equity into the work environment.
Accept Alternative Beliefs
It is important to remember that not everyone shares the same values and beliefs. For example, American society tends towards individualism which promotes personal choices like pursuing one’s passion instead of continuing a family business. Other countries favor collectivism, emphasizing group mentality like parents who sacrifice personal desires to provide for their family.
Neither is better than the other, and both influence everyday lifestyles. Instead of getting angry or upset about a coworker’s actions, try communicating with them first to hear their beliefs or values that drove their behavior. The more we understand each other, the better the workplace will become at avoiding racial biases.
Unconscious Bias Training
Just like we need to be aware of our blind spots professionally, there are also blind spots socially. Work environments and coworkers can perpetuate preconceptions and harmful biases without realizing or intending them. These are called microaggressions. Unconscious bias training is one way to reveal underlying prejudice reactions. There are consultants and companies dedicated to improving DEI efforts in business everywhere that provide this training.
Yet, training should be accompanied by other sources to continue education on racial biases. Resources include books, podcasts, and webinars that dive into personal experiences and actionable steps you can take.
While we strive for race-neutral policies, there are some that disproportionately affect people of color. One example is discriminating against natural hair. If you have the authority to impact corporate policies, then you can advocate for women of color as only 7% of Black women are in C-suite positions. For those not in upper management, you can voice your opinions and concerns over policies. If they don’t know there is a problem, they can’t fix it.
Listen to women of color’s criticism or comments with an open mind. Their experiences and opinions are equally valuable as anyone else. Dismissing their concerns in the work environment only perpetuates unacceptable behavior.
The International Association of Women partners with world-class organizations to offer our members access to incredible resources and support. Just as our members build skills through shared knowledge, IAW works with its partners to develop lasting relationships. If you are interested in supporting women’s growth globally, then partner with the IAW at https://www.iawomen.com/partners