By Tracie Daniels, Synergy Consulting, VSCPA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Partner
Without a doubt, 2020 was a challenging year. From dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19 to the overwhelming events centered around police brutality, last year was unimaginable, but how 2021 will be is up to us. In spite of these paralyzing events, employees are still showing up for work daily and attempting to conduct work as “business as usual.” However, there is nothing usual about our current events and leaders must be open and available to dialogue and provide an environment where employees feel free to express themselves.
Admittedly, creating this type of dialogue will be uncomfortable for some, especially a leader. However, if we neglect to have or dismiss these conversations, we are ultimately failing our employees, ourselves and our organizations. Leaders, this is your opportunity to put all the diversity, equity and inclusion training to use. Here’s an opportunity for you to demonstrate Emotional Intelligence. Will it be easy? No. But the conversation is needed. Your employees need to hear your voice during this time. They need to feel heard, accepted and most importantly — they need you to know that they matter. They need to feel that their work environment will never tolerate or accept inequality, injustice, or unfair treatment. The goal is not for you to understand everything that your employees may be feeling, but rather, for you to support, empower and value their right to feel.
Starting a conversation on sensitive topics can be overwhelming, scary, and challenging for many leaders. The truth is that a good, strong leader never backs down from challenges, but rather, faces them head on. This is your opportunity to rise to the challenge and help to change your organization and our world!