One of the most important steps organizational leaders can take in supporting BIPOC employees and taking proactive steps to demonstrate their intentions to prioritize racial diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) – whether internally or externally – is to encourage the establishment of BIPOC affinity groups and/or race-based caucuses.
There is compelling data clarifying the extent to which BIPOC employees experience trauma and are adversely impacted by the reality of racial bias, microaggressions and behaviors implicating the ways in which organizational structures and cultures are invariably informed by the reality of White dominant culture and White privilege.
As an organizational leader, supporting and encouraging the establishment of BIPOC affinity groups and/or race-based caucuses represents your willingness to acknowledge, elevate and center the needs of BIPOC employees and the communities they represent. What’s equally important is ensuring that the perspectives of BIPOC inform your organization’s racial equity goals.
Acknowledging that the well-being of your BIPOC employees and their ability to experience a supportive workplace culture where they feel validated, experience a feeling of belonging and are equitably credited for their contributions to business goals – particularly in this moment, where the focus on the reality of systemic and institutional racism has inspired nationwide attention – can be critical to your potential to mitigate the reality of racial bias and its impact on your internal and external racial equity goals.
Additionally, supporting and encouraging the establishment of BIPOC affinity groups and/or race-based caucuses for those employees choosing to take part in them…
- exemplifies your intention to move beyond mere messaging and communication about your intentions to promote racial equity, which can often be interpreted as symbolic and surface-level rather than authentic, in favor of actionable steps meant to support racial diversity, equity and inclusion goals;
- reflects your sensitivity to the needs and experiences – personal and professional – of your BIPOC employees – and that you understand how important it is for them to engage in community-building processes meant to encourage connection and networking inspired by their shared experiences;
- represents an important step in any effort on the part of organizational leaders to build trust with BIPOC employees who often have little reason to believe that you are serious about your intentions to prioritize racial equity in your organization and
- creates an opportunity for BIPOC employees to elevate concerns, needs and input of importance to your organization’s racial equity/inclusion agenda in a consistent, coordinated way and increases the likelihood of their investment in and support for your racial equity agenda.
Of course, in supporting and encouraging the establishment of BIPOC affinity groups and/or race-based caucuses, remember that such groups should be granted the opportunity to design their own agenda and goals rather than have them be dictated to them. While it is important that their objectives work in alignment with your organization’s racial equity plans, it is equally important that BIPOC employees feel empowered to define their mission and vision as informed by their collective experiences.
What are the ways in which your organization is currently demonstrating active support for and validating the experiences and contributions of BIPOC employees?