While we would all like to think that we have seen the last of racially charged killings, such as the on-camera slaying ofPhilando Castile, the reality is that such incidents have been occurring for a long time and are unlikely to disappear before concerted national effort is expended to end them. What is new is that such events are now being caught on camera, which greatly increases the likelihood such effort will be expended.
The Role of Video
Just as the TV news showing policemen releasing attack dogs on peaceful Black protestors changed the national sentiment on the Civil Rights movement in the 60s, so too the newly pervasive eye of the nation on police action is confronting those who would otherwise have no awareness of systemic racial abuse in our nation, nor interest in developing such an awareness.
Though it would be easy to relegate the significance of these currents to political or legal spheres, the reality is that the business sphere is very much impacted as well. It also has a major role to play that is uniquely its own.
According to Shabnam Javdani, Asst. Professor of applied psychology and counseling at NYU Steinhardt, “… video footage that documents violence and lower relative safety for members of a group to which you belong can be a heavy psychological burden that builds—especially if social injustices against your group continue to escalate.”
The Secondary Trauma of “Business as Usual”
While some staff may take a “business as usual” attitude the day following a racially charged killing making the national news or dominating social media, this is not possible for employees who identify with the person slain. The fear, anger, and sadness that is likely to arise doesn’t just disappear simply because it is ignored.
In fact, the worse possible response to such trauma being experienced by some staff is to ignore it and expect them to act as if they are unaffected.
What to Do?
So what does a responsible employer with a diverse workforce do to successfully meet the challenge of the situation? The response of Square, Inc. to two recent (July 2016) racially charged killings presents an exceptional example of what doing it right looks like….
Excerpted from, “Employers, Prepare for the Next Racial Stress Event Before It Happens.” Read the full article.