In response to the ongoing
coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented impact to business and employers,
i4cp holds a weekly series of standing calls to help Diversity & Inclusion leaders navigate this unpredictable
When i4cp’s weekly Diversity & Inclusion Action Call
focused attention on the issue of racism among organizational employees, call
leaders turned the typical guest-interview format on its head and threw open
the discussion doors to the 110-plus inclusion leaders and other interested professionals
attending the virtual event.
Jacqui Robertson, i4cp Chief Diversity Officer Board Chair
and call leader, worked in tandem with i4cp Creative Director and lead
researcher for the CDO Board, Eric Davis. Together, the two posed questions for
attendees to keep in mind, then fired a spirited and thoughtful conversation
with two poll questions exploring employee behaviors that violate employers’
Key Ideas Shared Today:
questions about racism in the ranks for consideration by inclusion leaders
and the organizations they represent:
- Is expectation of total conformity with stated
corporate values anathema to creating true inclusion?
- Where is the boundary between opinion and
action, and how should it be enforced?
- How are those boundaries established? What
constitutes crossing the line?
- How do organizations address dissonance if the
expression of dissent is a fireable offense?
- Where does this discussion end, and where do
considerations of damage to PR, productivity, and culture begin?
- How do we facilitate the discussion of differing
viewpoints in mutually respectful, effective ways?
findings on organizational actions. Recent research by i4cp into the actions companies are
taking to address racial inequities revealed:
- Many organizations are
still simply listening and planning
- Reaffirming stated
values such as inclusion, diversity and belonging
- Sponsoring employee-led
dialogues and listening sessions
- Companies that are
moving beyond courageous conversations to take action favor several
- Providing anti-racism
and anti-bias training for leaders and managers
- Expanding resources
delivering targeted assistance to employees (such as mental and physical
health programming for Black employees)
- Conducting bias audits
of existing organizational norms and practices
#1 moved attendees to speak out. The call’s first instant poll asked about situations
that have received widespread media attention:
you think that an employee who’s involved in a racially charged incident
outside of work (e.g., Amy Cooper, Charlottesville marchers) should be
terminated if the incident goes public?
know - 15%
context needed - 35%
Call participants spoke eloquently of the
thoughts, concerns, and questions the poll’s topic raised for them and their
organizations. A few of the key ideas expressed:
- There should be consequences for bad behavior,
but this area could be a slippery slope impacted by considerations of free
speech, affiliations, and the potential for long-term consequences and
alienation of some employees. A measured response may be needed.
- Context is important – the severity of behaviors
involved must be considered, and companies should look for opportunities for
corporate policies, training, and programming to educate and inform.
- People who are bold enough to misbehave in
public are likely to also be bold enough to misbehave in subtle ways at work.
- Job roles are an important concern, especially
if people who exhibit biased behavior in public settings are in positions
of influence (deciding on career advancement opportunities for others, for
example) in the workplace.
- In today’s work world, people are employees
24/7, representing their employers whether or not they are physically in the
workplace. Companies should do their due diligence by effectively screening
potential hires (including social media history) for fit with organizational
- Gender bias is a consideration in
evaluating/perceiving the severity of employee misbehaviors. In some contexts,
women are likely to be judged more harshly than men for engaging in comparable
#2 asked about the results of candid, or courageous, conversations that
are taking place in many organizations today:
employees expressed views during courageous conversations or on internal
sounding boards that run counter to your organization’s stated values on
inclusion and diversity?
Top responses :
but they led to good teaching moments – 34%
but nothing egregious - 20%
and they were disruptive or raised concerns – 16%
Additional comments from call attendees:
- Black Lives Matter is a
statement of focus, not of exclusion. It is the current focus because of
the deaths of George Floyd and other Black individuals. It does not mean
exclusion of other groups. Rather, it is an opportunity to education and
- In some companies, the
potential may exist for association of political affiliation with the
perception of racism.
- Some people are
concerned that discussions of diversity and inclusion focus only on black
and white, to the exclusion of other groups (indigenous peoples, those of
differing religions, etc.). When diversity and inclusion are valued, it
must be articulated in actions and from every part of the organization
that racism in any form won’t be tolerated.
Part 2 next week: The depth and breadth of today’s
discussion on racism in the ranks led to a decision to continue the
conversation in the Action Call on July 28th. Additional polls are
planned during next week’s call to explore organization’s policies related to
employee expression of views that clash with company values and the methods
organizations use to enforce compliance with their values.
Also on today’s Action Call:
by the enthusiastic response to the D&I Action Calls, i4cp is
establishing a new Diversity & Inclusion Exchange community.
The i4cp-member-led group will explore innovative approaches to
strengthening diversity, inclusion, and equity. An August 28 launch is
planned, and the community will be open to i4cp members only. More
information is available from Carrie Bevis, i4cp Managing Director of
Communities & Partnerships at Carrie.Bevis@i4cp.com.
In addition to this recording, please see these resources: