On August 19, Dr. Akilah Cadet joined Circa for a webinar focused on Power and Privilege in the Workplace. The webinar provided a lot of great information on how you can look at your privilege and use it to become an ally in the workplace. While the webinar was not recorded, I have provided my top five takeaways below.
- Your first steps when looking at power and privilege should be focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace and unconscious biases. Circa has the tools for you to start the evaluation process. First, take our 8 question Diversity and Inclusion Assessment to see how strategic your DEI program is internally. Then watch our Recognizing and Overcoming Unconscious Bias webinar which focuses on explaining the different types of biases and how they can appear in the workplace along with steps to take to work on overcoming these biases.
- Listen to co-workers and share cultures. When talking about culture, make sure to share what you can about yourself with someone while also taking the time to listen and learn about their culture to minimize biases and stereotypes.
- Privilege comes in many different forms with categorizations in both unearned and earned privilege. Noting these privileges and using them when it matters to listen, gain an understanding and then use that to learn how you can help others with less privilege.
- Hold people accountable. If you hear microaggressions or something said that is off help to show others why it is wrong or how their actions can come across. Creating a safe space to understand one another can go a long way in the workplace. Also, stating the facts during this time of why it is wrong or how it can be hurtful to people can help make it an easier conversation.
- The fifth takeaway is more of what can we do to become an ally on a day to day basis. After the webinar, I focused on reading some articles and thinking of ways that we can do this in the workplace and have some examples of changes that can be made below:
- Not allowing the most dominant voice to take over in every meeting especially if they are interrupting or talking over others.
- List out your privileges both earned and unearned and note how these privileges may have given you an upper hand in the workplace and in the world.
- Look to create employee resource groups to have more voices heard within the workplace.
- Acknowledge that even though you feel pain, the conversation is not about you. This means taking time to listen, digest the information and reflect on what you have heard from someone else.
- Keep in mind that people may have disabilities that you don’t know about, and inform yourself about ways to create an inclusive atmosphere for people with invisible disabilities.
- Be respectful in the workplace. Whether or not you directly work with someone, be respectful of other peoples’ identities, roles, and time. For example, learn the correct gender pronouns your co-workers use and be careful of vague, irrelevant language that reinforces stereotypes.
- Understand that education is up to you so continue to educate yourself about racism and unconscious bias. One of our blogs Resources for You and the Workplace to Discuss Racism has a list of resources including articles, books, podcasts and more. Dr. Akilah Cadet also has a list of resources available for you to become an ally in the workplace!
- Listen and ask questions when someone describes an experience you haven’t had. Don’t jump in with your own personal stories.
- Look to create opportunities of mentorship or sponsorship, especially if you are in a position of authority to help pull someone up or provide them more opportunities.
- Managers can look to hold office hours or an open-door policy encouraging team members to speak about issues that are troubling them.
As always remember that using your power and privilege to become a great ally does not happen overnight. It takes dedication and a commitment to learning and it is okay to make mistakes or be unsure. The important thing is to allow yourself grace and time to learn more about racism and become the best ally you possibly can in the workplace.