Ep 239 – How We Can Help Eliminate Systemic Racism at Work

This podcast interview is one of the most important I think I’ve ever done in my life. It’s also incredibly uncomfortable but necessary to help make change happen. Systemic racism is real and I am seeing so many HR leaders looking for resources and information to get started which is why I so excited for you to hear this interview. 

Black people account for only 3.2% of senior leadership roles at large corporations and hold just 0.8% of Fortune 500 positions; all are men. Similarly, Latinos hold fewer than 2% of Fortune 500 CEO positions; most are men. If we want to see true racial equity, then we must promote people of color to leadership positions and we also need to start by getting uncomfortable and committing to change for our organizations in this area. 

Episode 239: How We Can Help Eliminate Systemic Racism at Work with Kim Crowder (@IamKimCrowder

I’m joined by Kim Crowder. She is a diversity, equity, and inclusion expert who was recently listed by Forbes as one of the top seven anti-racism educators you need to know. Kim has a celebrated background working for companies such as Whole Foods Market and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis. Kim’s work empowers upper-level leadership who are ready to be innovative and transformative in their approach towards diversity, equity, and inclusion, and anti-racism within their organization. She works alongside them to create actionable strategies, plans, and policies in order to build stronger, more effective, high-performing teams, and to create an equitable workplace for ALL employees. This conversation isn’t just about Black Lives Matter, and I believe NOW is the right time to check in with your black employees. Talk to them about your company and how leadership supports eliminating racism and the REAL steps they are taking to do help change their company culture as well as the community where all members of your workforce lives. 

How to Talk to Your Employees and Managers About Racism

The conversation of racism is a necessary but hard conversation that needs to happen in your workplace. I know it’s a challenge and it’s one that manager business leaders would like to avoid and ignore altogether, but that cannot happen any longer. Kim shares some ways to start checking in, providing training, and having conversations with employees about racism at work and drive awareness on a new topic that I wasn’t familiar with until this interview which is micro-aggressions. Mico-aggressions Kim says are small instances of racism. They are small but feel very big because it’s triggering and is happening in a sudden moment. She describes it as a person just standing there and someone slapped you in the back of your head. This person who did this just kept on walking and you, as the person asks yourself and everyone around you, “What just happened? I was just standing here. I didn’t do anything.” THIS is an example of a micro-aggression and what is feels like for your workforce.


I’ve linked to several reading lists in the transcript of this podcast along with an article by Kim on micro-aggressions. This podcast is for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. My hope is that this interview inspires you to have conversations with your leadership and what you, as an employer needs to do be apart of a solution and the change. As an individual, I hope this inspires you too. I don’t want to be a part of the problem but an ally in the solution and that starts with seeking our resources, information, and educating ourselves on the world others are experiencing for underrepresented groups especially people of color. This is not a short term thing. We can’t read a book and check it off our list. It’s an ongoing and continuous thing. Just because protests die down and the media stops reporting on racism doesn’t mean racism is resolved. This moment is important because, as a society, we’re talking about a topic that many have ignored or shut down in the past. Keep the dialogue going at the internal leadership level, at the internal management level and at the all-employees level.

Dialogue means growth – and the more we talk to one another, the more we are able to break down our internal conscious and unconscious biases.

Connect with Kim Crowder on LinkedIn



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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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