There is no doubt that 2020 has brought more than the fair share of unexpected chaos into our lives than any other year in recent history. Now going into the fourth month of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the recent death of Minneapolis man, George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, and the subsequent protests and backlash that erupted across the country, has shed a spotlight once again that racism remains prevalent and widespread and that change is desperately needed.

Regardless of the strides organizations have made in the past five, ten, twenty years by creating diversity initiatives, anti-discrimination policies and training, and unconscious bias in hiring programs, the reality is that it hasn’t been enough. With the nationwide civil unrest, calls for Justice 4 George and resurgence of rallies for the Back Lives Matter movement, tensions are running extremely high. What should employers do to support worried, angry and stressed employees?

The first thing an employer can do is reinforce the open door policy and their availability to listen. Listen, employ empathy and understanding, and encourage constructive and positive dialogue. For an employer to ignore the employees’ fear or the anger that employees may currently harbor is unhealthy and unproductive. Don’t remain silent on the subject. Make a statement to your employees about where you stand on the subject of inequality, discrimination, race relations and the race conversation in America. Where does your company stand on holding this dialogue? Host round table discussions. Invite questions. Provide a safe outlet for employees to share their concerns that may be out of your control, but are weighing heavily on their minds. You may not be able to change things in the world, but you can provide an encouraging atmosphere that will lend itself to increasing trust.

  • Practice active listening by asking probing questions
  • Be introspective
  • Show empathy and understanding
  • Don’t shut down opposing thoughts or viewpoints, but do shut down negative or destructive language

If employers have an Employee Assistance Program available through your benefits plan, send out a reminder to your employees and invite them to participate. Review and Revise Diversity and Inclusion policies: The current environment is the perfect opportunity for you to work through your existing or maybe even non-existent policies on discrimination and harassment. Are they valid? Do they speak to not only the legal aspects required of your organization, but do they state what you want your company culture to entail? Get HR support: JB Consulting Systems is here to help you and your business during these difficult times. Contact us today to see what we can do to help establish or review your policies on anti-discrimination or provide training to your staff.