An Open Letter to my White Colleagues: 3 Ways to Be a Better Ally to People Who Look Like Me
It’s been a little over a month since I started my role as an Associate at A.wordsmith, and I must say it’s been one heck of a transition. As if starting a new job from home during a deadly pandemic wasn’t enough, I’m also faced with the unchanging reality of being a Black woman in America during one of the most significant social justice movements in our history. While Black people are being killed at the hands of police, and continuously told by society their life has no value, I’m still expected to show up every day with a positive attitude and pretend that nothing is happening. This is the sad reality of many Black people in the workplace, and the PR/marketing/advertising world is no exception. The public relations industry is 89.7% White and just 8.3% Black – stark numbers that groups like Hold the PRess aim to shift by demanding action from agencies. White professionals in our industry need to step up because what I know from experience is that having a supportive team can make all the difference. You may be wondering what it means to support your Black colleagues during this unsettling time, so I want to offer three simple tips to help you be a better ally:
1. Educate YOURSELF:
Black people shouldn’t always be expected to educate you on Black topics, holidays, people, culture, etc. It can be very exhausting and redundant. There are so many resources out there to learn from. Before asking your Black colleague a bunch of questions, try picking up a book, or listen to a podcast, pretty much anything you can think of to show you’re actively trying to learn about the Black experience.
2. Include your Black colleagues in meaningful conversations:
When it comes to creating meaningful change in the workplace it’s important to give Black people an opportunity to express themselves freely and share ideas without fear of backlash or retaliation. Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace should be a top priority for everyone on the team, but it’s an impossible task to accomplish if everyone in the conversation looks the same.
3. Don’t just talk about it, be about it:
Now is the time to be actively anti-racist by putting real action behind your words. Black people deserve more than passive sympathy, so it’s your job to show them your support. Consider ways you can bring your team together for these efforts, even in our current remote workplace era. Attending a protest together, posting messages of solidarity on social media (with action behind them), donating to a Black organization are just few ideas to help you get started.
I know it may be challenging to incorporate these tips into your life and workplace initially, and oftentimes you may feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, that’s what it takes to be an ally in this fight against racism and injustice, but just know your efforts to support me will never go unnoticed.