In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, many companies have been more vocal about their support for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. However, there is still a long way to go in dismantling systemic racism and addressing white privilege in the workplace. Here are ten ways you can stand up to white privilege in the workplace.
1. Educate yourself
Before you can effectively challenge white privilege in the workplace, you need to understand what it is and how it affects people of colour. Read books, articles, and watch documentaries to learn about systemic racism and white privilege. More importantly, listen to the experiences of others especially people of colour in your workplace.
2. Speak up
Don't be afraid to speak up when you see or hear something that perpetuates white privilege. It can be uncomfortable to call out a colleague or superior, but silence only reinforces the status quo.
Listen to the experiences and perspectives of people of colour in the workplace. Don't dismiss their concerns, try to explain away their experiences, or rationalise their views through your own life experiences.
4. Challenge stereotypes
Challenge stereotypes and assumptions about people of colour in the workplace. Don't make assumptions about someone's work ethic, intelligence, or ability is based on their race. For example, you find offensive stereotypes like Indians are better with computer stuff or black people work the hardest when it comes to physically tasking jobs. It doesn't matter what the stats say, racial stereotypes have no place in the workplace or the world.
5. Amplify their voices
Allies should amplify the voices of people of colour in the workplace. If they come up with a great idea, make sure they get credit for it and others know what they did. Don't take the credit for yourself because you are their line manager.
6. Use inclusive language
Use language that is inclusive of all races and cultures. Avoid using phrases like "colorblind" or "I don't see race," as this can minimize the experiences of people of colour.
7. Advocate for diversity and inclusion
Advocate for diversity and inclusion in your workplace. Push for the company to implement policies and practices that promote equity and fairness for all employees. Make sure people of colour have inputs into these policies. Remember, equality is all about everyone having equal rights, but it doesn't necessarily mean a one size fit all approach for everyone. The system is inherently rigged against people of colour. So, while applying the same policies to a white and black employee may seem fair, white privilege will always tip that scale.
8. Check your biases
Be aware of your own biases and work to address them. Take the Implicit Association Test to identify any implicit biases you may have. More importantly, organisations should review their work place policies to ensure they are not biased. You will find that many organisations unknowingly create policies that protect the white privileged but are disadvantageous to people of colour. This usually happens when work place policies are created without the input of people of colour, and the wider ethnic minority community within the organisation.
9. Be an ally
Be an ally to people of color in the workplace. Attend diversity and inclusion events, join employee resource groups or affinity groups, and actively work to create a more inclusive workplace. As an ally, don't be patronising and don't try and walk in their shoes. Just be supportive, listen, learn and understand. Remember that people of colour feel mentally strained when the white privileged try to rationalise them through their own life experiences.
10. Hold others accountable
Hold yourself and others accountable for creating a more equitable workplace. If someone says or does something that perpetuates white privilege, call them out on it and work to create change. If you have been called out, don't be defensive. Being called out for white privilege doesn't mean you are a racist, it just means you are benefiting from a system that is disadvantageous to people of colour and advantageous to you because of your race.
Standing up to white privilege in the workplace requires a willingness to learn, listen, and take action. It can be uncomfortable and challenging, but it is essential for creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace. By implementing these ten strategies, you can help to create a workplace that truly values diversity, equity, and inclusion.