As many community-based organizations and institutions in America are finally stepping up to vocally condemn the injustices of racism and discrimination and in some cases are stating hefty commitments to reduce and eventually eradicate bias cultures, we worry that companies are approaching racial equity work under a flawed narrative.
As many of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color hired in organizations have been labeled as “diversity hires”, our lived experiences tell us what it’s like to have one’s contributions underestimated because those in “power” and in the majority who are defending the status quo, thought standards were being lowered in order to bring BIPOC in.
At Racing to Equity, we partner with Human Resources leaders and specialists to ensure that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and other targeted groups who have been marginalized, oppressed, and discriminated against during the recruitment, hiring, and retention processes are provided with the access and supports they need to excel and advance professionally within their organizations and institutions. Ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion is a strong attempt to level the playing field to allow the best ideas and innovation to flourish, connect talented BIPOC leaders and individuals with opportunities that those in the majority often have unfair access to, and inspire the best organizations to thrive. When done right, creating diverse, equitable, inclusive organizations yields innovation, creativity, profitability, and stronger teams.
We support organizations in analyzing their policies, practices, and procedures to ensure that these are equitable. We support our HR partners by providing them with professional development, strategies and tools on equitable recruitment, interviewing, hiring, and retention practices, as well as culture change to provide a hospitable space for BIPOC and other targeted identities to thrive in their organizations. Our work is to also support the development of HR Handbooks and other critical tools and then connect these crucial efforts to the organization’s strategic priorities as well as its mission, vision, and values.
R2E also supports HR departments in understanding the history of bias and employment discrimination in the United States. While many organizations and institutions theoretically believe discrimination of an employee because of their race, gender, ability, or other identity is wrong and even illegal, in practice, cultural bias and institutional racism are present in many key hiring decisions made in the workplace. One small but eye-opening example is a 2003 Harvard study which found that employers preferred white candidates with a criminal record over Black employees who didn’t have a criminal history. Professional women of color face a number of impediments to hiring and advancement that white women do not. From historical segregation to newer and invisible barriers to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the workplace, there are very good reasons for why organizations need to prioritize leveling a currently unequal playing field.