What Can HR do to “Make All Lives Matter”

On August 15, 2016, in HRExaminer, by Cathy Missildine

2015 photo of Cathy Missildine, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Member

“I believe HR needs to be the voice of “togetherness” addressing these sensitive topics head on. Ignoring the issues does nothing but allow them to continue and impede progress whether that is inside or outside the organization. Our profession was founded on these principles, we can make a difference….I know we can.” – Cathy Missildine, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Member

What Can HR do to “Make All Lives Matter”

I believe we all can agree on one thing, the violence must stop and we must come together as a nation. All of us, as United States citizens have a part to play in unifying this great country of ours. We were founded on principles of freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

What has happened…so many things? Too many things to list. We have divided races, we have divided politicians, we have divided religious leaders, and we have divided citizens.

Can’t we all agree on one thing? This country will be better if we ALL are looking out for one another and instead of solving problems with a gun, we solve problems with our mouth.

I was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1964 in the middle of the civil rights movement. I was born into a divided city where I remember as a little girl eating in different areas from my black neighbors. I remember as a child the first black family moving into our neighborhood and then I watched all my neighbors leave to the all white suburbs. I remember my family moving to those same suburbs. I consider myself and my family to be non-racist. But at the same time, that move was racist. I am ashamed for us. I can say, “Well everyone else moved. “ I can say, “Well it was a crazy time.” I have to ask, why didn’t we just stay?

So what does all of this mean to the HR profession? I am sure these current events have had impact in our workplaces. I am sure the effects are both subtle and overt, objective and subjective and positive and negative. Today’s issues are so much bigger than diversity and inclusion; it bleeds into respect, tolerance and fairness. We, as HR professionals must be the stewards of creating a working environment where all colors, perspectives, religions, origins, demographics, sexual preferences, and disabilities are not only welcomed but encouraged and heard. We as HR professionals cannot just create an affirmative action plan and think we are done with the “diversity” task. It’s a continuous journey and it is necessary. HR professionals can choose not to tolerate inappropriate behavior that is based on bias, prejudice and racism by ANYONE in the organization. HR can educate employees on the values of respect and tolerance and the benefits of a workforce that is different and innovative.

HR can have the biggest impact in the area of fairness. This has been HR’s job for six decades. We must review all of our recruiting, selection, training, compensation and recognition policies with our fairness lens as a guide. The most important question is, “Do our programs have a disparate impact on ANY demographic?” not just the covered ones in Title VII. We should be doing this work anyway, but now is definitely the time. We don’t want to add fuel to the current controversies and after all isn’t fairness the RIGHT thing to do?

Bottom line, we have veered away from having any type of racial/diversity/inclusion discussions at work. I believe that is a mistake. I see more and more companies encouraging their employees to form affinity groups around a common thread that binds the group together. I have seen gender, race, sexual orientation, and generations, come together to discuss many topics. It’s not a session to bitch, it’s about career development, how to improve the company, how to communicate more effectively and many others.

I believe HR needs to be the voice of “togetherness” addressing these sensitive topics head on. Ignoring the issues does nothing but allow them to continue and impede progress whether that is inside or outside the organization. Our profession was founded on these principles, we can make a difference….I know we can.

Rebuilding is everybody’s job. What are you going to do to make America remain great?



 
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