Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Recognize Juneteenth by Responding to Equity’s Role in Workforce Resilience

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June 16, 2022

2022 will mark just the second year Juneteenth is recognized as a federal holiday. Given the latency of many to commemorate the ending of slavery in the U.S., companies are now struggling to appropriately recognize the holiday, which encapsulates both joy and pain. While there are some meaningful observances planned, some organizations may be silent.

“While many organizations are now closing their offices for Juneteenth, it’s not enough. Leaders should be assessing their organizations and looking for how they can support their employees and communities in more substantive ways that meaningfully address inequities,” said Undraye Howard, vice president of equity, diversity, inclusion, and engagement at Social Current.

It’s no secret that employers across the country – and across industries – are currently struggling to support the mental health and well-being of their employees. Organizations in the social sector are certainly feeling the constraints of escalating costs and rising needs for services, coupled with the pressures to invest in and retain employees.

Today, we are faced with many new and longstanding challenges to workforce resilience. The ongoing stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges around advancing inclusion and equity, and secondary stress that some staff experience on a regular basis are a few of the many obstacles to creating a positive staff culture, which is the core of a resilient organization.

A recent post on the CompassPoints blog puts it candidly, “We need to talk about how tired folks are. After the last two years, it seems like everyone is feeling the strain of burnout in a deep and long-lasting way. For many Black leaders and leaders of color, the demands to support their communities through turbulent times, keep organizations running, and tend to life amidst multiple crises has taken an especially heavy toll.”

Recent research from the Building Movement Project validates this assessment. Their report, Trading Glass Ceilings for Glass Cliffs: A Race to Lead Report on Nonprofit Executives of Color, explores the added burdens facing leaders of identity-based organizations, the challenges that BIPOC leaders encounter when taking over leadership from white predecessors, and the common realities of being a leader of color in the nonprofit sector. The report found:

  1. Leaders of color need supports, not more training.
  2. Leaders of color take on added burdens, without additional compensation.
  3. Leaders of identity-based organizations face distinct demands.
  4. Unique challenges come with taking over leadership from white predecessors.
  5. Too few white leaders factor race equity into their succession plans.

“It is clear that people of color face additional barriers and burdens in the workplace and it is up to us, collectively, to advance equity at the person, organization, and systems levels,” said Howard. “It is critical that we not only recruit and hire people of color but that we create workplace cultures that ensure they are supported, feel valued, and can bring their ‘whole selves’ to work each day.”

Embedding Equity in Your Workforce

Organizations must partner with staff and prioritize advancing equity as core to how they look to advance workforce resilience. By building self-awareness, psychological safety, and a shared accountability, organizations will foster the beginnings of both workforce resilience and a culture enriched by equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).

“Nurturing a positive and supportive culture that aligns with our values does not happen overnight. Learning and building capacity around the concepts and interconnected strategies for EDI and workforce resilience, developing individualized plans, and putting plans into action and course correcting along the way is the surest way to make progress toward their goals,” said Karen Johnson, director of the Social Current Change in Mind Institute. “This work requires us to be innovative, curious and courageous, but it is doable, and our workforce is worth the investment.”  

For leaders looking to partner with staff to improve their workforce cultures and increase well-being and job satisfaction, Social Current is now offering participation in a yearlong learning collaborative. This unique opportunity will provide sustained support and connection through a cohort with others working to advance similar goals.

EDI is at the core of this learning collaborative’s curriculum, which will advance understanding of brain science, build psychological safety, prioritize positive workforce culture, and increase connection. And in addition to this workforce resilience learning collaborative, Social Current is also offering a learning collaborative fully dedicated to advancing equity, with applications due June 30.

For organizations that are looking to move quickly into action, Social Current’s three-part virtual workshops lay the foundation for building an EDI-enriched organization and offer dedicated worktime for building an EDI action plan with the help of experienced facilitators. This workshop is ideal for investing in your EDI taskforce or other staff leading equity efforts.

Advancing equity takes sustained commitment from leaders and organizations and at the same time, needs to begin somewhere. This Juneteenth, affirm your commitment to your workforce and advancing EDI.

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About Social Current

Social Current is the premier partner and solutions provider to a diverse network of human and social service organizations. We offer a range of innovative solutions through COA Accreditation, consultation, impact partnerships, knowledge curation and dissemination, learning collaboratives, networking, public policy advocacy and mobilization, and trainings.