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Since the election of Donald Trump, almost a week ago, the country has seen ongoing protests, police crackdowns and a rise in hate crimes. White supremacists, emboldened by what they see as a win for their cause, planned victory parades and left graffiti on public buildings. Anxiety among both undocumented workers and non-citizens here on visas has spiked, and interest in the naturalization process has continued to remain high post election. LGBT hotlines saw a huge increase in phone calls last week, amid worries that the new president elect would roll back protections for trans people and pursue a ruling against gay marriage.
Donald Trump’s victory last week wasn’t just a shocking upset, it has caused shock and upset amongst many — and those feelings are unlikely to go away any time soon. President Elect Trump’s transition team and potential cabinet are packed with social conservatives and anti-globalists (to say nothing about his campaign promises), so fears of isolationism, punitive security policies, loss of healthcare, deportation and a turn from progressive values are well founded. People are scared and they have every reason to be. That’s why your diversity initiative is so important right now. It’s why reaffirming your commitment to it will show that your organization, and the employer brand you’ve worked so hard to build, can be trusted.
If You Value Diversity, Say it Loudly Today and Every Day
If your employer brand is based on equity, openness and innovation, if you have blogged about the importance of diversity to your workforce, then now is the time to loudly and publicly reaffirm your commitment to those values. Even before the election, Americans were stressed out about its affect on their country and their personal relationships. Now that it’s over, Americans are stressed out about the deep divisions they see in their country, and about the very real possibility that a Trump presidency could harm them. Reaffirming your commitment to diversity, staying consistent with the employer brand you’ve built, ensures that candidates see you as sincere, and it assuages anxiety they might have about just how much you really mean it. If you want a diverse workforce and an equitable workplace, leave no doubt — say it loudly, proudly and often.
Sharing messages of solidarity and care across your social media in the coming weeks is essential — regardless of whether or not President Elect Trump “softens in office,” as so many are predicting, fear and anxiety are high right now. Demonstrating that you understand this, that you care about your candidates and employees as people not just potential resources is just the first step. You must also demonstrate your commitment to doing better — a commitment that must be embraced, modelled and lived by your whole organization. Remember, employees are your most important brand ambassadors, so make sure that they also know, understand and share your commitment to a diverse and equitable workplace.
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Here are five ways you can demonstrate leadership and empathy:
- Be Loud: If you have a diversity or values statement, share it on social media. Consider also sharing messages of solidarity or signalling your commitment to diversity.
- Be Concrete: Share facts about what you’ve achieved and what you want to achieve. Give details about your diversity initiative and what social causes you have supported now and in the past.
- Listen: Look for feedback from employees, current and former, and candidates about how you are doing, what you can do better, and what they need from you. Don’t just wait for people to speak up — make it clear that your door is open and that feedback is not just welcomed but wanted and needed.
- Stamp Out Abuse: Have a firm, zero tolerance policy for workplace bullying and abuse, and make sure everyone from new hires to the C Suite acts accordingly. Share or post your existing policies and look for feedback on how you can improve them and the company culture as a whole.
- Be Proactive About Stress: Check in with employees and be understanding with candidates who may be slower than usual to respond. Look for ways to reduce stress at work for everyone, but even more importantly, be personal. One on one conversations can have a huge impact and mean much more than an email blast.
These are all actions that you can and must pursue immediately, but going forward there is even more you can do. Undertaking a study of your current initiatives — be they a push to reduce bias in hiring and diversify your workforce, efforts to increase access to training and promotions for employees from marginalized groups, support for pipeline programs or industry associations, or an ongoing program to fight bullying, bias and prejudice in your company culture — will be crucial in the coming days. It’s not enough to say you value diversity, your actions must match up. Ensuring that your diversity initiatives are substantive and effective, that your goals are progressive and you are always raising the bar, is the best way to be the change you want to see in your company, your industry and your country.
Prove the integrity of your employer brand by fighting for what you say you believe in.