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Uncomfortable Truth About Creating Anti-Racist Culture

Updated: Jan 9

"We really are anti-racist, I promise you!"

Our Leadership clientele and stakeholders remind us all the time that they are not racist. The majority of them are white males; statistically the majority of leaders are white and male. They are the ones who are trying to change the narrative and create a new type of inclusion and belonging in their organizations. We thank them for this.

Some say they are anti-racist and have invested significantly in unconscious bias training. Our response:

“If that is the case, wouldn’t you like to find ways to leverage DEIA investment?” 

In arriving at how we can amplify these investments, there is an important question leadership must answer:

Does bias still occur in everyday work interactions?

We cannot understand a problem, unless we acknowledge its existence.

Thankfully, an article by HBR brings this to the fore:

Bias In Everyday Work Interactions:

How it plays out:

  1. Prove it again: Some groups have to prove themselves more than others do - continuously.

  2. Tightrope: A narrower range of behaviors is accepted from some groups than from others. 

  3. Maternal Wall: Women with children see their commitment and competence questioned or face disapproval for being too career-focused. 

  4. Tug-of-war: Disadvantaged groups find themselves pitted against one another because of differing strategies for assimilating—or refusing to do so.

  5. No Room for Mistakes: Some groups are severely penalized when they make a ‘simple’ mistake.

  6. Lack of Proper Support: Some groups are not given correct and specific coaching or mentoring or training or mental health assistance.

  7. Equity Imbalance: Some groups are not given promotion opportunities and/or rewarded with fair equity.

  8. "Blackscape": Black and brown people see their commitment, competence, performance questioned or face disapproval for being black and brown.

  9. Dream Diminishing: Some groups are continuously being told why they cannot do something or that their dream and vision is too big.

  10. Network Proofing: Some groups are not given tools, access, and adequate support to navigate and/or invest in networks.

Added to this, there are more biases that #BCBL (Black Coaches for Black Leaders) and #exclusion expose, based on our own lived experiences as well as those of our black clients.

If leadership recognizes how this disparity plays out in their organization then perhaps it’s time to work with Arte & Soul’s Black Coaches for Black Leaders #BCBL, where we collaborate with both white and black leadership to help identify, grow and nurture black leaders and the talent pipeline. At A&S, we are committed to working with organizations to shape a new and thriving culture with leaders at the helm that disrupt bias, stand for the betterment of all human beings, and create new ways of belonging and framing inclusion, thereby actually espousing the values of being anti-racist. 

We really are anti-racist - I promise you

You say you hold no bias, but I am not getting paid the same,

And then you take a look at me and you know it’s because my colour, you do blame,

You say you hold no bias, but you keep asking me where I went to school and where I live.

And in your head that’s another opportunity to shame and not to give,

You say you hold no bias, but the last time I spoke to you about a promotion,

You smiled at me and said: “No way” that would be difficult and would cause a commotion. 

You said you’re a proponent of great inclusion, 

but I don’t get it! because every time I’m around you, 

I feel a great sense of confusion.

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