This Moment Offers Us a Unique Opportunity
The unconscionable fatal attacks on Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and George Floyd, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, have illuminated the longstanding racial divide in the U.S. and continued inequalities across health care and economic opportunity in this country. We’re now at a unique juncture in history that allows us to reflect, unlearn, and educate ourselves regarding the structures of racial oppression, and evaluate how to pursue a more equitable future for all.
Change doesn’t happen in moments of strength, it happens in moments of vulnerability, and businesses can and must play a leading role in addressing racial equity and driving meaningful progress.
I am a leader of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at LinkedIn, but the onus of this work is not just on me. It’s on leaders across organizations and on all of us to foster a culture of belonging. This is a time for critical conversations about the real work we have to do, the journey ahead, and how we’re measuring our progress along the way.
Acknowledgement and Allyship
Before enacting change, we must acknowledge the inequities that have lasted for ages within our societal and corporate structures. We also need to look inward at biases that may be present in the practices and cultures in our own corporate structures and organizations. It will likely be uncomfortable, but it’s a crucial first step.
Leaders must also act as role models who operate with intention and conviction to continuously practice and learn the art, science, and skills of inclusive leadership.
Building a Diverse Talent Pipeline
When people from diverse backgrounds and cultures work together, everybody succeeds. We must not only evolve the way we hire, but also ensure we’re retaining and promoting employees by building programs across the employee lifecycle that create a culture of belonging.
In addition to an increased focus on diverse candidate slates and new investments in onboarding and mentorship, one of the key focus areas for us at LinkedIn is a company-wide learning curriculum and accountability framework for our people managers. These training programs help to ensure that managers are equipped with the skills needed to be inclusive leaders, to understand and confront bias, and to actively create a culture of belonging.
Leading the fight against racism and injustice takes more than just lending your voice to the cause. It takes courage, vulnerability, and most of all, action. Companies, and the people who work for them, can use this pivotal moment to enact real change that’s long overdue. Those that take specific, pointed actions to build an equitable workplace that enables all people to thrive will come out of this period of unrest more successful and stronger than ever before.