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  • Writer's pictureamhayward

Leadership and Race Relations

I wonder if Martin Luther King, Jr. ever considered that in 2020, 57 years after his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, our country would still be gripped in the racial injustice that plagued his generation?

Yet, here we are. The brutal murder of George Floyd, witnessed around the world, has shown us that racial injustice is real, it is still relevant and is in desperate need of a solution.

As a white woman, I can't even pretend to know or understand the complexities and experiences of racial inequity or injustice. I can, however, feel pain and outrage. I can empathize.

As a leader, however, I can do something. We can ALL do something.

Set the tone. It is our job as leaders to not only 'walk the walk', but in this case, 'talk the talk'. Now isn't the time for quiet reflection or reserved statements about equality. Now is the time to shout it from the rooftops that racial inequity and racial injustice will never be tolerated in your organization and reaffirm your commitment to equal rights.

Do the Work. When I said this wasn't the time for quiet reflection, I didn't mean that review and action wasn't necessary. Every organization should be using this time as an opportunity to review their current systems, create conversation among their teams (even if this is done anonymously) and make necessary changes.

Seek out opportunities to learn from others. Leadership doesn't operate in a vacuum. Find other business and community leaders to learn from. Participate in difficult conversations. Be fierce in encouraging change.

These ideas are not new or even groundbreaking. They have been parroted about for decades and yet we, as a nation, have seemingly failed to create and sustain real change. We are not born knowing hate. We learn it. It's time to teach the old dogs some new tricks and realize that racial equality benefits every one of us.

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