Racial Climate Survey – What is it can it be helpful or hurtful?
I talked a little about the importance of the executive leaders needing to be on invested in trying to bring about racial justice and racial unity in their organizations so that people of color can feel psychologically safe. Most important, studies have shown that the primary thing that helps employees to excel is a feeling of psychological safety between co-workers and bosses at all levels of an agency. Despite what people in the organization may say about the organization being a “Great place to work”, organizational leaders should take it upon themselves to develop an internal DEI task force consisting of people of a wide array of racial and ethnic backgrounds to serve on a one year basis. Once this Task Force is developed, the members should be allowed to consult regularly on what can be done to ensure that racial unity is promoted in the work place through educational programming, multi-media events, and professional development. These recommendations should be submitted to the Executive Team so that a strategic plan can be developed and approved for future execution.
I think that while employees have a good understanding about what can be done to bring about racial equity in the workplace, no matter how knowledgeable they may be, it is my strong opinion that an outsider’s involvement is essential. Having a principled and experienced DEI leader to come into the mix and do a racial climate survey can often add extreme value to this discussion and future observations. When an DEI outsider comes into the mix, they can interview people and keep things confidential and thereby gain trust faster than an insider can ever do. Once these stories are generated, it is the first step to building a real portrait – good, bad, or ugly – about the status of an organizations’ racial climate so that a plan can be developed to make it more inclusive and welcoming. Is a racial climate survey the be all and end all of trying to bring about racial justice and equity in a company? Absolutely not. It is like taking a car in to get a tune up. Once the car is given a diagnostic test, the DEI leader will be able to see what the problems are and recommend a series of steps and strategies that can take place over the next year and hopefully over a three year period. What organizational leaders need to understand is striving for racial unity and justice in our workplaces and communities is not a sprint, it is a marathon. If given the chance, organizations can decide who to recruit as DEI professional to assist in carrying out the journey of becoming antiracist institutions. The choice is ours to make. In my humble opinion, leaving this choice to chance is not an option. The time to act is now!