We need to talk about how we talk about Black Lives Matter (BLM) in
the work place because the subject still has a faint air of menace
about it. If people are reluctant to talk about diversity for fear of
saying the wrong thing then organisations will have a tick box
approach to diversity which looks impressive but doesn't change the
culture. This all to common superficial approach to diversity explains
why an organisation can have an impressive equalities statement, a
strategy that sets targets for recruitment, mandatory equal
opportunity training, a carefully crafted application form,
ethnically balanced interview panels and yet under representation persists.
Avoiding talking about diversity is the elephant in the room, a big
ever present issue that managers and staff are pretending isn't there.
Its why I called my case study on equality and diversity in Lancashire
county council ,"An Elephant in the Room" publish by www.russellhouse.co.uk. The
book shows how the organisation responded to the challenge to
establish a safe environment to talk about diversity.
As a director I had led responsibility for turning good intentions
and fine sounding words into real change. Establishing how we were
going to talk about diversity was all part of the type of organisation
we wanted to be and therefore the type of management behaviour we
wanted to encourage. Senior managers needed to set the tone, be wiling
to talk directly to front line staff about diversity, to answer their
questions and address their concerns as well as challenge myths and
stereotypes. The intranet was a very useful tool in helping the wider
staff group identify the most commonly asked questions and providing answers.
Perhaps the biggest step an organisation needs to take in response to
Black Life Matters is to recognise that it’s not good enough for
managers to not be a racist they must be anti racists. And you can’t
be anti racist by avoiding discussing diversity.
Blair McPherson former Director ,author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk