- Jackie Glenn is the founder of Glenn Diversity and HR Solutions. She is the former chief diversity officer for Dell EMC.
- The recent spate of killings involving Black people and White police officers has forced many companies to reexamine their diversity efforts. Workplaces are also starting to take accountability for their role in upholding systemic racism.
- If white and non-black people of color do not challenge racial stereotypes in their day-to-day lives — Glenn said Black colleagues will continue to face racial injustice in the workplace and beyond.
- Glenn recommends workers employ boldness to call out racial bias, and other microaggressions that largely burden Black colleagues in corporate America.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Over the past month we have witnessed a series of unjust murders in the Black community: Ahmad Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, just to name a few. These are not tragedies that have befallen us out of nowhere — they are the result of a long history of systemic racism. Every life has value, but senseless attacks continue to rain down upon the Black community without consequence as if our lives have no worth — that is why it’s important to stand up and say Black Lives Matter.
In my last piece for Business Insider, I shared one of the ten “gems” from my book “Lift As I Climb: An Immigrant Girl’s Journey Through Corporate America.” Each gem is a value that has guided me in my life. I recounted how the boldness gem can be used to take charge in your career.
As the world continues to be inundated with stories of injustice, we are all obligated to look outside of ourselves and focus on lifting those in need instead. In my 25-year tenure as a chief diversity officer in corporate America, no one was eager to discuss matters of race. People are finally starting to listen. The time is now, and I am compelled to take this moment to share how my boldness and resilience gems can be channeled to benefit those around us who need it most.
While we can all see the events playing out, it has become clear that the reaction to these events varies greatly from person to person. Every single person in this country should be outraged. If you have turned a blind eye, ignored the cries for justice, and kept on with your normal life, you are part of the problem. Let me be clear — silence is supporting the violence.
I describe boldness as the willingness to do the right thing at the right time, regardless of the barriers we may encounter. This statement couldn’t be more relevant today. This is not a time to shrink up and hold your tongue.
Call out microaggressions that are thrown your way. Call out bias as you see it occur. The responsibility falls upon each of us to speak out against the injustices we see. Barriers may materialize in tense moments with the Amy Coopers of the world who use their whiteness as a weapon. In those cases, it’s even more important to be heard.
Whether you have a platform that reaches millions or you’re having a conversation with one friend, using the boldness gem will hold people accountable and shine a much-needed light on the issues at hand. Have you witnessed your colleagues, family members, or friends engaging in racist behavior or downplaying the severity of recent events? Call them out! Educate them on the realities that minorities face and speak on important truths that are often swept under the rug.
Boldness is not only a necessity for people of color: White people have just as much responsibility, if not more, to use their privilege to help enact real change. Allyship across communities is critical during these times. Look in the mirror and be honest about how you have contributed to systems of racism, and how you can do better.
I acknowledge that being bold is not easy. In fact, it can be downright draining. To keep up the good fight, we must draw upon another gem — resilience. In “Lift As I Climb,” I describe resilience as the ability to bounce back, pick yourself up when you fall, and never give up when faced with challenges.
The litany of egregious wrongdoings against minorities in this country stretches back across centuries. The issues have only become further amplified during the last few months. For every person reading this with a heavy heart and weary soul — do not give up. Margaret Thatcher said, “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” Each injustice is its own battle. The wave of a movement is nothing without each advocate; each drop of water. We are depending on you.
Understanding the concept of resilience is simple enough, but how can this gem be put to use? Encourage yourself and others to stick it out. Foster companionship and lean on each other. Take time to care for yourself before jumping back into the battle. Black people in particular may have to dig deep for the resilience gem. Just when we begin to process one tragedy, another comes along. It may seem futile, but we must not allow our spirits to be broken.
Look back at the accomplishments of our forefathers as inspiration. Our ancestors were tired, but they fought to get us to this point and it’s up to us to continue on. We have made it through horrors like slavery and the Jim Crow era — a brighter future for our children is within reach. We cannot stop now.
Progress is possible. I call upon every person reading this message to take a stand for what’s right through boldness and keep moving forward through resilience. We have made it this far and change is ahead.