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Here’s How to Bring Up Race in the Workplace

talking about race in the workplace
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

There has been a lot of discussion about race in the workplace lately. We all know there is a need for more diversity and inclusion across industries, but achieving that is easier said than done. You have to communicate. Of course, you can talk about race at work, but you should approach it the right way. Bold TV spoke to communication expert Dr. David Campt to get some tips for employers and employees who want to approach touchy topics in the office.

How to recommend more diversity

If you’re a person of color on a team who wants to address a diversity issue with your employer, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem. The great thing is that we live in a time where this issue is everywhere, so your boss shouldn’t be too caught off guard. Of course, if you’re in a large company, bring it up with the human resources department. They probably have a diversity and inclusion expert already, and if they don’t, then you definitely can make the suggestion. But many Millennials and Gen-Z’s work for small startups that may not have an HR department. If that’s the case, approach the issue casually with your employer. Campt suggests sharing an article around the office to spark conversation with everyone about how more diversity could affect the company.

How to express discomfort

Campt’s final takeaway is about letting someone know when their words are making you uncomfortable in the workplace. You have to remember that whoever you’re talking to isn’t your enemy but a flawed human being with whom you have to work. He suggests using the intent vs. impact distinction to frame your feelings in a certain way. “It’s useful for people to learn how to say: ‘When you said that, I felt uncomfortable,'” Campt said. The problem is that we usually assume the impact a statement has on us is intended when it usually isn’t. If someone says something that offends you, it is your right to express that, but you should consider that the offense may not have been their intention. When you separate and point to your feelings rather than what was said, you can start a meaningful conversation less likely to introduce defensiveness. Campt assures that the other person could still be defensive, but this is a more helpful frame. Communication is key, and if you want to see a change in your industry, you have to talk about it!

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