How Managers Can (and Should) Address Race and Violence in The News

Maria Louisa
Equality Includes You
6 min readMay 28, 2020

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“I can’t breathe”

This week, hundreds of thousands of people of color are struggling for breath, again. Opening apps and browsers and seeing ourselves, our children, our significant others in the images of slain men and women. Putting an “Amy” face to the quiet “I’m not racist, but…” ghosts that haunt our careers. Mourning.

Then the computer dings. Time to work.

The work of compartmentalizing collective trauma is a soft skill you won’t see listed in job descriptions or evaluated in interviews. For many people of color, this is a real survival skill required to navigate the workplace, and, simply put, it’s exhausting.

Tweet from Timothy Bardlavens, Product Design Manager at Facebook

For more information on “calling out Black” check out this resource by Dr. Courtney McCluney Asst Professor of Organizational Behavior at Cornell ILR School

The idea of approaching a conversation about race and racism may give you some serious pause. Many of us have been firmly instructed that race has no place in the workplace. This has resulted in a very loud silence, confirmation for some that their racial identity is not professional and that their social reality in the wake of tragedy is not as valid as traumas shared by the majority. Post 9–11, for example, we mourned together. Post George Floyd, we, the professionals of color, mourn around our workday.

Managers and leaders have an important role in establishing psychological safety for their employees and there is a place and need for these conversations. Let’s talk about how to manage that discomfort and do the work needed to serve your teams when and where they need you.

We have to move past our caution. I would encourage each of us, even if it feels uncomfortable, to have the courageous conversations and be a courageous listener, because that’s how we solve problems.”

- Minda Harts, bestselling author of “The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table” via Times

Starting the Conversation: Starting is the hardest part

Avoid this: “Hey Maria, I just wanted to check in with you about what’s been going on in the news. I know, you’re, you know, a person

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Maria Louisa
Equality Includes You

Just a girl staring at a cheeseplate, asking it to be calorie free. Full time Sr. Talent Acquisition Partner, part-time Poshmark Addict. House Gryffindor.