Companies that ignore what is happening in the world right now are sending a distressing message to their Black employees. These employees are often grappling with emotions only to come into a workplace that does not create space for these feelings.

Matt Bush, the culture coaching lead at Great Place to Work®, encourages leaders to not stay quiet. He says now is the time to think about what is more important than the items on a daily to-do list. Your employees are more than just employees – they are people who have been carrying a heavy emotional weight.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Bush’s thoughts on how businesses can support Black employees in the workplace right now.

Offer your help. Instead of asking questions, simply be there for your employees. Bush recommends saying something such as, “I understand this all must be quite painful for you. If there is anything you need right now, we’re here for you.”

Know what’s happening around you. Pay attention to your employees, including reading their tone and body language. Some individuals may feel inclined to openly discuss their thoughts while others prefer to internalize their feelings.

Give choices. Your employees need different things. Bush advises letting them choose what they need, whether that’s one-on-one time with you to talk about non-work things or a one-on-one to talk about work items. Some employees may benefit from trauma coaching or participating in an employee resource group. The important thing is that you are there for your workers in ways that they need.

Make the first move. Bush says leaders should not wait for employees to speak up when they feel marginalized or excluded. Be willing to take the first step at acknowledging the reality that Black employees are facing.

Leave your door open. To create change in any culture, your employees must trust you. Trust starts with communication. During these times, make yourself available to your team. If you are working in the same office again, leave your door open and encourage your employees to come in at any time. If you are working remotely, you can leave your virtual door open by creating a channel where you are always available.

Be vulnerable. If you don’t know what to say to your Black employees, that’s okay. Everyone is learning right now. By showing your vulnerability and your sincerity, Bush says you are helping create a safe space where everyone can bring their full selves to work.

The Black community has a lot weighing on their hearts right now. Leaders should not stay silent in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Instead, meet your employees where they are. Take meaningful steps to create a workplace where Black employees feel safe, heard and valued.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Matt Bush is the culture coaching lead at Great Place to Work. He helps leaders gain insight into how to build great workplaces for all, while simultaneously achieving their business goals and fueling new and innovative practices.