It's all over the news. It's in our neighborhoods. It's in our homes.
It's not new.
But it's been there all along. Many of us have been oblivious.
I've been oblivious.
I didn't think I was racist. Yet I am.
I've said I don't see color – as if that was all the proof anyone needed.
I had no idea how ignorant a statement that was…until now.
And now that I know better, I will do better (Thank you, Maya Angelou!)
As a leader, I've led very diverse teams. I've always been curious about other cultures. I'd ask questions. I wanted to understand.
But my questions were not deep enough.
I didn't know.
But now I do.
The past couple of weeks have brought to light so many thoughts about the world, myself, people of color. Thoughts I didn't know existed within me.
There were protests and riots right outside my door.
I wanted to help.
I wanted to hide.
I cannot unsee the things I saw in myself.
As a leader, it is your job to address things that make you uncomfortable. It's in your job description.
Conversations about racism may make you uncomfortable. Or it may make your team uncomfortable.
It's okay to be uncomfortable.
It's not okay to use that as an excuse not to talk about the things that are hard to talk about.
There is no 'right way' to address racism with your team.
You’ll offend someone. I am sure I am offending someone right now.
It's impossible to please everyone. That's just a fact of life.
You've got to start somewhere. You will learn.
You're a human leading other humans.
The time is now. Change is happening. Start (or continue) the conversation.
If you are unsure how to start the conversation, start from where you are.
If this is a hot topic right now for you with your team, gather your team and tell them that you want to address racism. Talk about how it is impacting the team, business, etc. Let them know you aren't sure where to begin. Ask for suggestions. Be open and honest.
If this isn't a hot topic for you and your team, open the door to the conversation. Acknowledge what is happening in the world right now. You can't ignore it. Let your team know that you're open to having conversations about what is going on and that you always have a listening ear.
Be sensitive. Do not call out any individual. Do not force people to talk if they don't want to talk. And those that do, let them talk. And listen from a place of curiosity.
For the love of all things holy, if you have people of color on your team, and you are white, it is not their responsibility to educate you or your team on their experience. Educate yourself.
Compassion. Kindness. Love. Understanding. Curiosity.
This is what the world needs. This is what your team needs. This is what you need.
PS: There is an abundance of resources to educate yourself on racism. Here is a list of people to follow put together by a colleague of mine that may give you a jumping-off point:
PSS: If you are struggling with having tough conversations with your team, I teach business owners all things leadership including how to have tough conversations. When I work with my clients, I teach them how to build an effective team by setting up a solid business foundation. This foundation allows your business to scale and grow.
Your business will not grow without a solid business foundation and an effective team.
In order to have an effective team, you need to learn how to manage your SELF, your TIME, and your TEAM. If you are ready to master these things, set up a strategy session with, and let’s chat about how working with me could help you grow your business.