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

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Kim Crowder talking about systemic racism and what employers can do to avoid and ignore it.

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

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Kim Crowder talking about systemic racism and what employers can do to avoid and ignore it.

Table of Contents

Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader, join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com, as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools, and case studies for the business leader, H.R. and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now, here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

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


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:26.84] This podcast interview is probably 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 right now and information to get started and helping make change, which is why I am so excited for you to hear the interview. Black people account for three point two percent of senior leadership roles at large corporations and hold just point eight percent of Fortune 500 positions. All of these are men. Similarly, Latinos hold fewer than two percent of Fortune 500 positions. Most are also men. If we truly want to see true racial equality, 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. This podcast is talking about systemic racism, and I am joined by Kim Crowder. She’s 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 Club 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 efficient, high-performing teams and to create an equitable workplace for all employees. Kim, welcome to the Workology podcast.

Kim Crowder: [00:02:14.19] Hi, thanks so much for having me.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:16.14] Talk to us a little bit about your background, how did you get involved in the diversity, inclusion in space?

Kim Crowder: [00:02:21.87] Sure. For 16 years I’ve been working in corporate America, including large non-profits, as you mentioned, and frankly, as I moved up the corporate ladder, I realized that there was some things that were really blatant to me as a woman of color, but both as a woman and as a woman of color around how I was treated and how I was supported and whether or not I was listened to and how I was paid, as a matter of fact. And so as I started to look at that, it naturally happened. I started doing talks with, at large conventions about the conversation. I started doing webinars. And before I knew it, I had fallen into this work. So I was doing my day job and I was also doing diversity, equity, and inclusion work and anti-racism work on the side. And then it just felt natural to me that I would put both feet in and do this full time.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:17.51] Awesome, well, let’s kind of level set things here. Can you talk to us, maybe define and set kind of a foundation on what racism is?

Kim Crowder: [00:03:27.29] Sure. And I think this is such an interesting question. So I will give you the book version of that and then  I’ll kind of talk a little bit about some other things, about the nuances of that. So it is described as prejudice, discrimination directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is minority are marginalized. I don’t really love that term. marginalized, I like to say underrepresented, but here’s where that’s interesting because as you move that over into the work environment, there are some real exacts right when it comes to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about what qualifies as discrimination. Well, if you talk to those of us in the underrepresented groups, we can tell you that it doesn’t look like that anymore. It’s not being called these blatant words. It is around microaggression. It is around not having support. It is not being paid equitably. So what that the way that definition looks is really very different from the way it’s described because it plays out in such a different way. And the way that people expect to see racism is in such overt ways. But for those of us who are part of those groups, we know it doesn’t look like that.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:04:46.43] Thank you. Thank you for kind of setting the tone here, because I’m happy the conversations are happening. This is why I wanted to bring you on here, because I think that when we think of racism, we think of what the EEOC or what the laws have said are we’ve seen in the past on TVs and movies, but not these microaggressions and small instances that you’re describing.

Kim Crowder: [00:05:08.93] And I want to say this. We call them small, but to the person that it happens to at any given moment, it feels very big because it’s triggering and it’s an all of a sudden moment. Right. You know, here I am standing just like if you were standing there and someone slapped you in the back of your head and kept walking here, like, what just happened? I was just standing here. I didn’t do anything. And so that’s what microaggression particularly. That’s a way to think about what that feels like.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:05:36.80] What about the terms that get thrown around in H.R.? A lot like diversity and inclusion. How are these different?

Kim Crowder: [00:05:43.85] Sure. I’m glad you mentioned that. And actually, I’ll go back to even one of the terms that you used in the beginning, even the conversation about equality versus equity, because those are different conversations, diversity, basically, you know, people are talking about being including people of different groups from different genders, different sexual orientations. We’re talking about the underrepresented protected classes. Right. And then inclusion is kind of this state of including them within the conversation or including them within that structure. What we know that diversity can happen apart from inclusion. And then also you hear people talk about unconscious bias, that’s a that’s a pretty common training at this point, is unconscious bias. Here’s what I really feel strongly.

Kim Crowder: [00:06:36.26] Is that the terms that should be discussed, aren’t, and some of those terms include what we just mentioned, microaggressions, that is a huge one. If we started having conversations about what that is like and what that means as so important, but also this conversation around equity and what that means. And by definition, it is the quality of being fair and impartial. But I want to give an example of what this looks like. It kind of a real life way that people can connect to. So there’s a professor at North Carolina, A. and they use a Monopoly game to demonstrate inequity, what this looks like. So they take a group of students, particularly the black students. And first, they play for three hours straight. Just the black students they’re playing. They’re having a great time. They start with two hundred dollars and they use all of the original tokens. And particularly for me, I’ve always thought of the shoot. If you know me, you understand why. And then after about two hours, they say, OK, white students, now you’re invited to play and you’re invited to play. But we’ve run out of tokens. And so you’ve got to find something that’s distinct to represent you in this game, whether that be a lot of gum or any rice or paperclips, something that absolutely stands out as an identifier, that you are not part of this original game. And then once they start, they’re given that two hundred dollars and they are expected to win using the same rules. And so when you think about that and you think about what that looks like in our society because of systematic racism and absolutely how this plays out in the work environment, then you get a real sense of why we should be talking about equity instead of diversity and inclusion apart from equity.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:08:19.13] I love that we’re having this conversation because I think that most people there go in the direction I went, which was diversity and inclusion. We didn’t think about equity and microaggressions and all these things. And that’s why I wanted to have you on, because we need to have these conversations to open our eyes and then think about how we can help as leaders of our organizations and of our business.

Kim Crowder: [00:08:45.33] And it’s so important, I really am a firm believer, especially when you look at A and who lives in typically in our H.R. departments and you look at leadership, are we talking about inequalities at the C Suite level or are we talking about inequalities at the director levels like we really need to instead of talking about it at the the employee base, the staff base? How are we really having these conversations at the leadership level? And is the leadership currently. Able to actually have these conversation conversations in ways that are helpful, right? Do they have the education that’s needed around it, like, as you mentioned, going, hey, I came at this a totally different way. Sometimes you need help, right? You need to get out of your own way and take it. We have someone else come in who can give you a sense of really where you are on that journey.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:09:41.27] So that’s one suggestion in terms of the bigger picture, getting executive leadership, looking at upper management to see and how we can help, but what are some other maybe bigger picture or longer term things that H.R. can do to help drive awareness to the fact that there is systemic racism, whether you realize it or not, that’s happening. And then what we can move, what we can do to to work to change that, because it’s not going to change overnight. But we need to be moving. We need to have good momentum to move forward to drive that change.

Kim Crowder: [00:10:13.51] Sure. The first part of that I say is get someone in who can see your organization with fresh eyes. And the reason I say that is because sometimes organizations have people who are saying the very things that I’m saying. But when I speak at conferences, they come up and say, you know, I’ve been saying this for years, but no one will listen to me. It’s kind of like how, you know, our mother can tell us one thing and our friend can tell us one thing. And it sounds better coming from our friend for whatever reason.

Kim Crowder: [00:10:43.16] And so really employing those people who are doing this work on a regular basis is a really great start. And then as you are doing that, one of the things you just mentioned is acknowledging that this is a journey. So what does that mean? That means that one workshop and one webinar is not going to get you there and also that you don’t have to do these now, now, now, really, the goal is, is that you start thinking long term. And the long term portion of this is for management, upper level leadership as they commit to this journey to start having those conversations because you want to soften the soil before you can plant. And so the longer that you give the leeway to start having those conversations at certain levels and really commit to about one or two things that that are going to make real change, you know, instead of trying to change everything, how do we commit to one to two things that we will put our foot all the way down on the gas? For that, we’ll Florida on and then take a look in about a year to six months to see where we are on this.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:11:48.18] I’m so glad you’re talking about this, because I feel like right now there’s a lot of conversations happening. We’re having this podcast interview. Companies are coming out and they’re sending out emails to employees. Maybe they’re doing a video, they’re posting things on social media, but it doesn’t mean that everything’s fixed or that things have changed. So I like the six months and or one year or two year commitments so that after all, the media dies down and all the hype and all the conversations, we are working to drive that change long term.

Kim Crowder: [00:12:21.78] And I love that you acknowledge the fact that one day this media will calm down. Right, that if we only see diversity, equity and inclusion as a response to media, we lose out on the long term benefits of it. This is a conversation about humanity. First, this is a conversation about whether or not your employees believe you and trust you to write, because the companies who are creating all this PR and coming out with speeches are doing these social media posts that sound great. But here you have employees looking or even just anyone who wants to go to your website and see that your leadership does not reflect what you’ve said and your employees know better than anyone that it doesn’t.

Kim Crowder: [00:13:05.67] And so you have these low retention rate and high turnover rates for people, underrepresented classes, and you go, well, why is this happening? And also you can take a look at your your levels of employment and you can see clearly right where that barrier stops. And so the longer that we that organizations are willing to determine today what kind of legacy they want to leave are what what kind of who they want to be in the workplace environment, what they want their staff to look like now that they commit to that vision instead of being reactive to what’s happening in trending.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:13:43.41] I have seen a lot of employers online in groups because we’re all online right now and they are like as an employer, we don’t even want to come out and have a take a stand or make a comment, which I find very unfortunate. But I want I wanted to have you on because I want these conversations need to be happening. We should be having them. I’m checking in with my friends. I’m watching these conversations have happened online and I’m thinking, OK. There’s so much work to be done, we can’t just say we’re not political or we’re not going to support protesting, we need to right now be thinking long term, but also check in with our employees to see how they’re feeling, especially those that are underrepresented, because there are a lot of feelings and emotions that are out there right now for us. Do you agree or what advice do you have? Sure.

Kim Crowder: [00:14:41.32] And when we talk about the different burden on different groups, particularly, particularly right now, you’re black presenting employees and employees that are particularly part of having to watch someone that looks like them or someone that they love be murdered right on camera and see that over and over on a regular basis.

Kim Crowder: [00:15:08.46] Then they have to go into work and be normal and be professional and be calm, and then another staff member, when we talk about microaggression, can say something or leadership is creating these statements and they still have to stay in this numbing place. And so it really creates such an unfair and inequitable situation for your black employees. I’m just going to name black employees specifically. And so organizations, I’m getting a lot of organizations coming to me and saying we didn’t know how to talk about it. Here’s what people would respect that I don’t know, because I feel like true leadership is vulnerability. And so the more that leaders are willing to say, we don’t know, however, we are committed to finding out and then laying out what that looks like specifically and not the flu stuff. But actually, you know, we are committed to getting someone in. This is the first step. And if it’s just that, it’s just that. But be comfortable sitting in honoring what you don’t know.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:16:23.23] I love the support on social media that’s happening, I’m sharing things, too, but I just want to reiterate that it’s one thing to share an Instagram post or to an article, but it’s another thing, like you’re saying, to come up with a plan and a strategy and goals to address this long term.

Kim Crowder: [00:16:42.46] And it’s also another thing to commit to being unconsolable. Right, because these conversations, this work can be very uncomfortable, it I call it I call myself a firestarter because it is some of that, it is going to be uncomfortable. There are some things where it’s going to feel overwhelming, but creating some plans around and being committed to what you said, being committed to the core values of the organization. And this really goes back to what really are the core values of your organization and are you willing to stand by them even when you don’t feel comfortable around that? What what does that look like for you and how are you holding yourself in your leadership accountable for when these things happen and when you get pushback from people, when people want more answers? Are you willing to be transparent? So it really is just I mean, this is a baseline deciding, you know, are you daring to be a great and brave leader or are you OK with status quo?

Break: [00:17:44.27] Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller Merrell. And you were listening to the Workology podcast. Today, we are talking with Kim Crowder about how to eliminate systemic racism at work. This podcast is sponsored by Workology.

Break: [00:18:02.15] Are you tired of putting your professional development on the back burner? It’s time for you to invest in yourself with Upskill H.R. by Workology, where a membership community focused on personal development for H.R. gain access to our elite community training, coaching and events. Learn more at UpskillHR.com.

How to Talk to Your Employees and Managers About Racism


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:18:27.53] I want to take a step back from the big picture for a second and think about individuals, right. You have a video which I’m embedding in this podcast episode that addresses what we can do as individuals to support people of color. And I loved your response. Can you maybe kind of talk through that a little bit about what we can do as individuals?

Kim Crowder: [00:18:49.19] Sure. And when we say individuals, I like to name things because I just feel like the sooner we name them, we have to be able to talk about race. So we are talking about mostly white people are white presenting. Right. And that was what that video was about. And I specifically say that a white woman asked me the question in the video, which is, how are you doing? And this was very much so when we were first starting to hear this. And I will tell you that as a black woman, I was physically reacting. I was exhausted. I had a hard time concentrating. There’s a physical reaction that happens when social unrest happens in your community. And I got on an IG to talk with her and she just asked me, how are you doing? It was different because I was also getting text messages and inboxes of people apologizing. I’m so sorry this is happening. Here’s all the things that I’m doing to to be more active. Do you have any more suggestions? And what does that do that puts the burden on people of color to basically educate you and have to deal with what’s going on, which is why I say as individuals find places where these conversations are already happening, find places where there are experts in the area. There are great organizations specifically tailored to white people around these conversations and also be willing to put your money where your heart is. Be willing to spend some money on it. We spend money on personal trainers. We spend money on bets. Right. And so why won’t we spend money on something that is so ingrained and systematic in our society if we really want to move this forward.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:20:33.35] Thank you. And this is I mean, this whole conversation is so good, but I am very uncomfortable and I have so many friends that I have wanted to ask and reach out to. How are you doing? What can I do to help and do like send the notes with here’s everything I’m doing. But I have have held back. So I appreciate you sharing that because I think a lot of us are kind of like, what should we be doing? We know there’s a problem as an as an individual and we want to support our friends and family members and colleagues. But we’re unsure, as I am a white woman, what I should exactly be doing.

Kim Crowder: [00:21:10.46] Right. One of the things that sparked me because I kept asking the getting asked the question, what can white people do? Is I created a workshop around what you can do now, what it is not as a fix. All right. So people show up and say, I am now an anti-racism, I antiracist. Now I’m taken this three hours of training and I’ve done these two homework assignments. I am indeed an anti-racist and that’s a no right. That can’t happen in such a short period of time. This is a long haul conversation and it starts. Yes, with being uncomfortable. That’s the first part of it. It starts, yes. With owning some guilt and shame around it. But how you deal with it is not people of color, black people’s responsibility. It is absolutely yours to own. And also, there’s a piece of really there’s there’s this real chasm between understanding systematic racism and the history of this country, because what we learn in the books was so limited and it came from a certain point of view. Right. So when we think about race in the civil rights movement and what that really was, many people have not heard of Bloody Sunday or Selma. Many people don’t know about the Tulsa massacre back in the nineteen twenties, if I’m not mistaken, and black Wall Street. And so there are so much more that we are people don’t even know what Juneteenth is, what that is, what that meant. And so really getting educated about just how deeply ingrained systematic racism is in this country is a first start. And then really taking a look at how has that haven’t had an effect on capitalism? How does that had an effect on workplace values? You know, this idea we don’t talk about money. Why not? Who does that protect? Right. Why don’t we talk about salaries? Because what what does that do that causes this divide? So that inequities cannot be established or cannot be recognized, and the more comfortable we get with naming things, the more comfortable we’re able to address them head on.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:23:22.54] I keep going back to the Monopoly game that you’re talking about, and I think it’s such a everybody knows Monopoly. Most people do. It’s kind of an American thing. And I think this is such a great example. And then when we think of it in this context right now, we’re experiencing high unemployment numbers right now as a result of the pandemic. And covid-19 numbers for unemployment are about 13 percent right now. That’s high for us. And there are so many people out of work. But was what I was really struck when looking into these numbers deeper is that there’s more to this story and this goes back to Monopoly. The black unemployment rate rose slightly to sixteen point eight percent, and it’s been up point one percent since last month. And I’m talking from this is June that we’re recording this. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this means that three point three million black Americans were unemployed in May compared to three point two in April and one point two million in January. So the interesting thing, not interesting, but the sad thing is, is that unemployment is decreasing for people who are white, but increasing for people who are black. What can employers do right now? What should they be doing to make a meaningful difference in this area?

Kim Crowder: [00:24:42.97] It’s such a multileveled question when you think about what they should be doing. I think the first piece of this is recognizing the where in society that this happens, particularly we know that employee black employees largely outnumber the number of white employees in the what had been deemed as essential workforce. Right. These folks who work at the grocery stores, these are people who drive buses. These are folks that have been deemed essential. Now, what does that mean? That means one.

Kim Crowder: [00:25:24.57] That they are more highly likely to be exposed to covid. That’s a piece of it, but also as these jobs go away, like in the restaurant industry. That can’t you know, there’s nothing that can happen right now who’s out of work and then going back to this systematic racism, and why is there such a chasm, a difference between who works in what areas of our workforce? And so as far as what I can do around this, I would say first gets really educated about that. But then look at and in your organization, if there has been furloughing if there has been some some firing of people, what does that look like? What’s the demographic of that and why? Ask yourself why then? Also, one of the things I’d like to bring up around workforce, particularly job performance, is that during job performance reviews, oftentimes if you look at reviews of those who are underrepresented classes, particularly around race and white employees, that there’s bias in those job performance reviews. And so if you have continuous negative job performance interviews, who gets let go first? And so it really is this education piece with H.R. because there’s no quick fix to this and know. I wish I wish there were, but there isn’t. It is really a point of learning and getting educated and having someone go through your receipts and being comfortable with kind of opening up your books and getting real feedback and creating some strategies to change that and policies as well.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:27:10.16] Let’s talk more about the work you’re doing in this area. You talked about the seminars and training and coaching for employers that you provide. Talk to me about that. What does it look like and where can people go to learn more about the work that you’re doing? Because if I’m a strong believer and that’s what I wanted to have you on the podcast, our leaders need to be right now. Do not stop. Go, Pasko. Do not stop. And we need to come up with a with a commitment like a long term commitment to help change this.

Kim Crowder: [00:27:44.96] Absolutely. So, one, people can find me at my website. Kim Crowder, consulting dot com also. And I think you’re going to link to this. LinkedIn is a great place to find me because on LinkedIn you can see some of my posts, you can see some of my articles and my approaches. So you can get a better sense of what I do in the professional space. But really. I think the question that you’re asking is the work that I do, if it can vary depending on an organization and here’s why organizations are at different places in their journey towards equity. And then also it’s defining that the goal is equity and not this idea of why don’t we just let let’s make sure our hiring pool as diverse and maybe our hiring committee may be as diverse, and then we get people of underrepresented populations in, but we’ve created no workplace culture or environment to support them. I think that’s the biggest thing that I see is that people want to start with the symptom. Instead of the root cause of the issue, and so I work with organizations to to really tear down and look at the root causes, and that’s one on one coaching with upper level management. That’s where I’d like to start first.

Kim Crowder: [00:29:11.18] I don’t throw webinars at staff because we have to have upper level management behind it, period. It has to be a point of almost no tolerance when it comes to what organizations are willing to do. I’m not talking about in a way that’s stifling or discriminatory towards any staff member, but I am saying living out those core values and making it very clear what that looks like and being transparent, which is why I say I work with an organization to identify one or two places of growth and we really, really focus on that for an extended period of time. And then, great, we’ve made enough movement that we’re comfortable here to go to the next phase. Maybe we choose one more, or maybe we tweak the tweak where we were in the last one or two and then move that forward for the long term and be OK with the long haul. So I come alongside organizations to create some real actionable strategies, some things that can be put in place that are in writing that are not ambiguous so that they can really move some things forward and that so that it can build trust with employees and so that employees themselves can adopt those very same core values.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:30:27.95] I want to link to a podcast interview that I did a couple of years ago with Brit and Geretta, she talks about the neuroscience of change. And it’s it’s real fascinating. I and I think when we are when you’re thinking about transformational change, it’s there’s no cookie cutter solution. And then each group of people within the change management process, they are adopting the change all at different speeds and rates, and they have a different role within that change. So, I mean, I love the approach that you’re taking. And I I mean, it’s not just a webinar that everybody joins and everything’s fixed. It’s it’s a long term journey for for every organization that’s unique.

Kim Crowder: [00:31:15.32] Correct. I would I would absolutely agree with everything you said. And I’m a big fan of Brene Brown in the way she looks at change, in the way she looks at leadership, because you’re right, this is about change. And we know that. People hate change, and that change takes a while, and that one percent every day is good in when we look at moving forward, if we can get to one percent, change a day were good. And so instead of trying to go at 10, you know, and creating some lofty goals that you can’t reach, what does that look like in increments? How does that feel? Is that something that can actually happen in the organization? And what does that really, really what does that plan and strategy really look like?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:32:02.35] So as a leader, we’re going back into our workplaces or we’re where we’re coming back into the work environment, whether it’s virtual or in person, if we see discrimination happening. And it shouldn’t be. But it is maybe. Hopefully not. But let’s be real. It’s probably happening. Well, yeah. How do we approach this as a natural leader or do we call the person out face to face like, you know, as it’s as it’s happening? Do we take them by the side or we do something else? Is there a best practice that that you recommend?

Kim Crowder: [00:32:36.22] Sure. That’s a great question. So I think the first part of this is no niceties around what we call it. You know, as I’m listening to you and we are both talking about this, right. There’s this ideal world where this isn’t happening, where we ideally this wouldn’t be happening, but we just know that’s not true. And so the first part is putting on this lens of saying, I know that there’s going to be micro aggressions. I know that there is going to be discrimination like own that first so that you can change your perspective about what you notice. I would say, you know, this idea of calling people out, you know, it really depends on the situation. It really depends on the situation. We do know that three out of five U.S. employees have witnessed or experienced discrimination. So it is happening and it is happening more often than not, right? Three out of five. And so really the goal here is, is to first create enough understanding of what that looks like so that when you see it, you recognize it. Because really, that’s where I have found the issue to be, is that if you are white and you have not done any work around this and you have no baseline understanding of systematic, systematic racism and hopefully don’t feel like I’m picking on white people, but I’m kind of saying because that’s who happens to be in leadership. If you’ve done a work around this and because of your life experiences being so different, then then your black employees or your employees of color, then sometimes you just can’t see it.

Kim Crowder: [00:34:13.90] There are blind spots, which is why learning about what that could look like is so important and doing that over and over again and getting real interactive understanding of how this happens, how do I deal with it. But I will say this. We need more white people willing to deal with it because it should not be on the burden of people of color to do the work in that way, oftentimes it’s received better if it’s coming from someone who is more like us, but also. It then takes the pressure off of making employees have to battle this and be uncomfortable on a regular basis so that management owns it. There are ways that you can do it with affinity groups and really making sure that that pipeline to leadership is very clear. That’s one way, at least as a start. Training is a huge one. I’ll say that 120 times over, not because that’s what I do, but because it’s important. And also making sure that there is a way for employees who are experiencing this to be able to report in ways that that are anonymous so that they are not having to always be at risk of losing their job or in some way being uttered that they have room to say, hey, this is what’s happening, and then the company can decide how to move that forward based on what they’re hearing.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:35:47.44] What resources or places would you direct people to go to learn more about systemic racism and how to educate ourselves? And I’m I’m just going to assume, like, what can you give me? Like, how can how can I learn more and help be the be part of the solution and not the problem?

Kim Crowder: [00:36:09.79] Sure. I think I’ve said it. Get that training. It’s just like, you know, we go to school for everything. It’s going to take some real work, is going to take some long term work. I have you know, you can start with there’s many great books out there, some you can’t even get right now. If you just look at the New York Times bestseller list for last week, I would I would move down from spot number one is white fragility. That’s the one people always go to. But I think right now is a really great time to hear from black authors around this topic. And if I’m not mistaken, there’s about 14 of them who’ve written books that are moving off the shelves right now. And the more that particularly white people are willing to own this work by doing some research and finding things like what book makes sense for me right now? How far what do I need right now? I think the better. I am working with leaders from Adobe, from smug mug, from government agencies, from the Catch Foods right now. And one of the things that I send them immediately is a survey about their experiences with race. And a lot of people say, well, you know, I grew up in a household where we didn’t talk about race or where I was brought up to not notice race. Even that statement alone alone is coming from a place of privilege. You get to not notice race. Right. And so this, again, is about. The human condition, what are the human messages that you’ve received and then how does that move forward to your professional life? But if we’re just talking about your professional life, the very things that we are finding out about systematic racism can support you there as well.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:37:59.64] Awesome, well, we’ll link to the to The New York Times best seller list and in the resources section of this podcast, I’m going to be picking up a couple of books. I’ve already started listening to some different podcasts and just trying to increase improve my perspective, because it’s the only way that I don’t want to be having this conversation with my grandkids and say, well, I remember when this happened in Twenty Twenty and I and it keeps happening.

Kim Crowder: [00:38:29.94] Yeah. Yeah. And because we that’s that’s the point is to think about legacy now. And you know, what side of this do you want to be on. And even if it is happening, at least not at this level, but at some level in 20 years, saying today that I will address it, I will I’m committed to addressing it. I am committed to not being silent about it, even if I may not have all the answers. I think being comfortable with saying, I don’t know, but let’s do some research together to find out how do we start meeting young, very young kids into this idea that there is room to have these conversations and you don’t have to shy away from it because those are our leaders for tomorrow. And so we want them to get comfortable with having conversations about race, even if they’re white, to think of themselves as white because they start to experience that with other races in ways that don’t feel so uncomfortable, but in ways that are more appreciative.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:39:33.30] Ok, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. Where can people go to learn more about the work that you do? Where is the best place?

Kim Crowder: [00:39:40.59] Start at my website. Kim Crowder, consulting dot com also. You’re welcome to follow me on LinkedIn. I’m pretty busy there and I’ve got tons of information out there. I’ve done other podcasts and you can listen to what I say and decide if that really works for you. I’m always open for an intro call, but Kim Crowder consulting dotcom is the greatest way to start.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:40:05.46] Awesome. Well, thank you for for talking with us, making time and giving us some really good things to think about. And then hopefully we go back to our leadership teams and start helping to drive this change everywhere.

Kim Crowder: [00:40:19.89] Yeah, I’m excited about that thought. And thanks so much for having me.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:40:24.00] 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 team and what you as an employer need to be doing to be a part of the solution and driving change as an individual. I hope this interview inspires you. I don’t want to be part of the problem, but an ally in the solution. And that starts with seeking out resources, information and educating ourselves on the world and what others are experiencing, especially for underrepresented groups, especially people of color. This is not a short term thing. We can’t read a book and just check it off our list and go back to our lives. This is ongoing and continuous. Just because protests die down and the media stops reporting on racism doesn’t mean that 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 our internal leadership levels. Talk to your spouses, partners, family and kids, and at work talk to internal management levels and let’s help drive change within our organization. Dialogue means growth. This is the most important. And the more we talk to one another, the more we are able to break down our internal conscious and unconscious biases. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Workology podcast.

Connect with Kim Crowder on LinkedIn



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