By now, everyone has made their opinions about 2020 clear, from the rise of the pandemic, our soon-to-be-former President, widespread job loss, rising death rates, and even random celebrity deaths—the year seemed like a non-stop onslaught of cruelty.
However, 2020 was also the year that Blackness and the Workplace emerged as a fully realized platform, which includes our podcast growing in popularity and support! Seriously, none of this was even a thought at the start of 2020!
Last year was also the year when Black people started to make our voices heard again. And not just our voices about general societal and political oppression; we brought raised these same concerns within corporate America. Things that were once considered taboo to discuss on LinkedIn such as natural hair, racist hiring policies, toxic managers, and the workplace trauma facing many Black professionals moved from being only discussed in dark corners or at home to being major topics of conversations on LinkedIn, the office, and even the media.
For years, companies hid their racism behind laws like “Right to Work” and others to suppress and even threaten Black professionals by taking away our livelihoods under the guise of “not doing our jobs well” or invoking “mutual separation.” Now, a small but growing number of Black people are taking the Black Lives Matter Movement’s ideas and demands off the street and into the workplace. Although not every single Black person has, can, or is required to join us, the impact this move has had must still be acknowledged.
Previously, we’ve discussed the many changes made in response to the anger of Black America after the state-sanctioned murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the unchecked unabashed racism of Karens like Amy Cooper. At length on our blog and podcast, we explained why many of these changes feel like pandering by companies who just want the Black dollar without actually caring about Black lives.
As Blackness and the Workplace serves as a collective voice, we wanted to ask Black people what changes they want to see companies make going into 2021, here are their thoughts:
“Substantive work implemented on anti-racism policies and not just performative allyship with public statements. Put your money and resources where your mouth is.”
“Greater accountability when it comes to D&I work.”
“Holding managers accountable for their treatment of Black/POC employees.”
“Forming Black collaborations and forms of Black unions.”
“The Black folks that are token sellouts for career advancement should not be allowed in collaborations and forms of unions.”
“No more allowing some Black people to risk themselves for the rest.”
“Paying Black Women for their intellectual labor.”
“Stop using the term 'micro-aggressions' because there is nothing micro about aggressions.”
The major theme is accountability: Companies need to hold themselves accountable for changing their work cultures, ensuring managers and co-workers behave respectfully, and be willing to further pivot as needed.
Adding to this, companies need to start building bridges is if they truly want to improve and respect all employees. The power of open, honest conversations is something so many forget in times like these; everyone is afraid of saying the wrong thing, or face abuse for speaking the truth, so folks either say nothing or conceal the truth. This fear results in nothing ever really changing.
At Blackness and the Workplace, we are tirelessly doing our part by encouraging more Black voices on our platform, inviting guest blog submissions, expanding our podcast content, and even adding more resources on our website.
It’s critical to continue to not only sustain but to advance current momentum to ensure everyone in corporate American is treated with respect and dignity.
Let’s do better in 2021.