Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

February 19, 2021

collection of hand-drawn cards collection of hand-drawn cards

By Madison George, Associate

Over the last few months, we have finally engaged in workplace discussions about race, white privilege and justice. For topics that once seemed untouchable, these conversations are happening in our homes, virtual meetings and in our communities. While it may seem uncomfortable to discuss such topics, it’s important to remember that for Black people, conversations about inequality don’t just happen when certain headlines make the front page.

This year it was hard not to talk about policing, the murders of several Black Americans, and our country’s most problematic system. Racism is an issue that is relevant to all, and good intentions can only hold us over for so long. The least we can do is talk about the Black experience at work – even though it may be uncomfortable for some.

We spend so much time with our coworkers it would be strange not to have these kinds of discussions. Not everyone will be ready to have these conversations and that’s okay too, but creating a space where employees can feel safe is a step in the right direction. Having more intentional dialogue can help us continue to create a more inclusive culture in our workplaces.

Here are some things to keep in mind when having these discussions at work:

  1. These conversations should have a purpose, whether it’s to raise awareness or recognize the need for education, setting a purpose can help steer the conversation in the right direction.
  2. We should be mindful that this is a time to listen to our coworkers. There is no need to try and think of a counter argument – this isn’t a competition, it’s a discussion.
  3. We should strive to have these conversations more often – not just when we are in the midst of a racial crisis. Recently, LinkedIn released new data that revealed 46% of Black professionals age 18-34 have faced blatant discrimination and/or microagressions at work. We should be tackling these issues proactively and aim to stimulate productive conversations while building an antiracist work environment.

In a place where we spend so much of our time, all of us play a key role in dismantling a system that has tainted so much.