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  • Writer's pictureEllavate Admin

U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism

Updated: Aug 4

This article originally published on Harvard Business Review.

by Laura Morgan Roberts and Ella F. Washington


Millions of Black people and their allies are hurting, and today’s challenges reach far beyond marginalization in the workplace. The psychological impact of these public events — and the way it carries over into the workplace — cannot be overstated. Research shows that how organizations respond to large-scale, diversity-related events that receive significant media attention can either help employees feel psychologically safe or contribute to racial identity threat and mistrust of institutions of authority. The authors offer three missteps to avoid —keeping silent, becoming overly defensive, and overgeneralizing — as well as ways that companies and leaders can take meaningful action.

The United States is in crisis. As we write this article, videos of racial violence and racist threats toward Black people in America flood social and news media channels. Public demonstrations against injustice are happening in at least 30 localities. During non-violent protests, other parties have engaged in vandalism and looting, spurring varied and often disproportionate police response. Several cities are burning, while Covid-19 continues to rage throughout the country, hitting minority communities the hardest.

In a week that focused on “reopening the economy,” everyone has become keenly aware that there is more than one pandemic affecting U.S. lives and local economies. As the American Psychological Association has declared, “we are living in a racism pandemic” too. World leaders are weighing in. The United Nations has urged action from U.S. authorities.

No matter your racial, political, or other identity, these events are almost impossible to escape. In particular, millions of Black people and their allies are hurting. And these issues are not ones that organizations or their leaders — from CEOs at the top of the hierarchy to team managers on the frontline — can ignore.

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