Building Racial Equity in our Businesses

Feature article from the DeW Life Magazine Summer 2020

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As healthcare professionals, we have all given an oath to improve the public’s total health. As a dental hygienist and an educator, I’ve taught my students our ethical codes and values, including the value of non-maleficence which indicates “our fundamental obligation to provide services in a manner that protects all clients and minimizes harm to them, and others involved in their treatment (ADHA, 2019).”

Recent events in our country have shown that many of our marginalized communities are still overlooked. There is still work to do regarding race relations, and as business owners, we have an ethical duty to help assist in building equity for all.

So, now what?

The question I want all of us to ask ourselves is: How are you helping to improve racial equity in your business, in your team, in your community and ultimately in your home?

This will require continuous engagement and conscious effort from everyone. We just can’t go back to business as usual. Your customers/clients will hold you accountable and so will your community.

At our DewLife annual event in 2019, I spoke to our diverse and inclusive group about legacy. I often think of the impact I want to leave in this world and the example I want to leave for my own children. I think of my daughters, my husband, my family that I love and the community I have come to love (that includes you). Although I choose love in all that I do, I am reminded of my own blackness when I’ve encountered biased treatment, racial profiling while my husband is driving, being called the n-word, my entire race being labeled as savages & thugs, lost opportunity because I didn’t have the eurocentric look…and the list goes on. I actively choose to not dwell on it and continue to move forward in my life, ambitiously keep seeking my goals and build meaningful relationships.

However, this time is undeniable: Change is happening; will you have an active participation?

Some have joined book clubs, others have shared their experiences, some are protesting, or some are reflecting and focusing on what they can do to build a better world. Whatever you decide, I want to encourage you to grow in love. Look for ways to understand, never minimize each other and listen.

Then I implore you to find ways to build more inclusive teams, friendships, businesses and lives. We need to evaluate our intentions and find the correct recipe to create change. I implore you to take imperfect action with me.

Here are some ways we can help build our business and lives for racial equity (Adapted from Rodgers, 2020):

  1. Develop awareness that inequities do exist. I recommended reading “Waking Up White and Finding Myself In the Story of Race” by Debbie Irving to begin your journey of awareness.
  2. Use your resources and circle of influence to help the invisible, to speak up when you see others doing wrong, to build a table that includes inclusivity. There is no room to be silent anymore. We need allies involved to help combat racism.
  3. Do you work to include diverse representation in your business, your employees, your marketing, speakers for your conference or actively recruiting people so that your clients/customers see someone they can identify with? No, let’s bring about change!
  4. Have the difficult conversations; be willing to listen and learn. I can’t highlight this enough: Listening first can help you build the empathy and compassion needed to move forward in love.
  5. Understand that you will make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember it is not the responsibility of our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to help fill in the gaps for you, which is why #1 exists. You need to do the research and the work.
  6. Find ways to invest in helping marginalized communities. Are you investing at least 15-30% of your investments in marginalized communities? Time, resources or more? If the answer is “no,” start with reviewing what your business does currently and where you can make adjustments.
  7. Still at a loss of what to do, at times you may need to hire a diversity, equity and inclusion expert. Here is a great resource: http://www.everylevelleads.com

Recently, I took a pledge to build an anti-racist business. I hope you join me, too. Are you ready to take the pledge with me?

Racism is a human rights issue; it is never a political issue. Let us all keep up the work to build a better world and leave a lasting legacy.

Reference:

ADHA. (2019, June). Bylaws & code of ethics. Retrieved June 15, 2020, from https://www.adha.org/resourcesdocs/7611_Bylaws_and_Code_of_Ethics.pdf

Rodgers, R. (2020). Reimaging small business: a town hall to listen, learn & commit to building equitable, antiracist organizations. Retrieved June 12, 2020 from https://helloseven.co/townhall-2/

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