Racial Equity is a Leadership Issue

What does it look like to operate your institution from a racial equity lens? For the 31 leaders participating in the first cohort of the REAL (Racial Equity Action Leadership) Inclusion Program (REAL), it is an interactive look that brings awareness, skills, and structure. REAL, the sixth in LM’s repertoire, examines the systemic beliefs, practices, and policies that have perpetuated systemic racism and situates that analysis within the context of organizational leadership. The first month’s session kicked off in October with the Phase One workshop led by Racial Equity Institute, that LM began hosting in the summer of 2018.

According to a Vox article on workplace discrimination:

The problem of workplace discrimination in the US — treating people unequally because of their race, gender, religion, or other fundamental part of who they are — isn’t usually expressed through slurs or physical threats [of the sort alleged by the Austal workers]. Complaint data shows that it can often manifest in more subtle ways, such as the assignments workers are given, the pay or benefits they receive, and the ways their performance is judged and rewarded.

The November session of REAL, Racism in the Workplace, addressed it head-on. In the session, led by Becky George, Senior Racial Equity Advisor for Mission Partners, the cohort spent the day examining power in the workplace and its affect on people of color. In 2019, there are doubts about instances of racism and discrimination in the workplace, especially in diverse communities like Montgomery County. Overt acts do not take place like they used to in the past, making the ability to assess situations harder. REAL addressed some of those instances with role playing activities while offering multiple opportunities for the cohort to continue to get to know each other, as well as a little bit of dancing.

Over the remaining seven months of the program, REAL will continue to bring disparities and connect their impact to the county and all the sectors that are a part of it. Each month’s session will focus on a different topic/issue. Towards the end of the program, the cohort will work within their organizational teams to develop action plans to take back to their institution and begin the process of transforming to operating through a racial equity lens. There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” The REAL Inclusion Program allows teams to work together to be true change agents for their institutions.

How do you show up in your workplace? It’s hard for many to understand how pervasive racial inequities are and just how negatively they affect economic development, innovation, and growth.

If you would like to learn more about racial inequities and their impact, Leadership Montgomery offers several options.