Podcast: How Employers Should Respond to George Floyd Aftermath

The co-author of a Harvard Business Review article on why US businesses must take meaningful action against racism, Laura Morgan Roberts, and the co-chair of Littler's EEO and Diversity Practice Group, Cindy-Ann Thomas, join XpertHR Legal Editor David Weisenfeld for a discussion about the nationwide response to George Floyd's suffocation death at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

Roberts and Thomas discuss the importance of candor in corporate messages. It's especially important not to couch terms or tiptoe around the realities of the situation, said Thomas. "Employers need to show they understand by using words in their statements like:

  • Murder;
  • Racism;
  • Injustice; and
  • Marginalization."

"You have to talk about it," said Roberts. "It's not a time to be silent." Both said this crisis illustrates more than ever the need for long-term investment in diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Listen Now

Additional Resources

Hate Crimes and the Workplace

How to Handle an Employee Making Racist Comments

Podcast: Why Diversity and Inclusion Matters More Than Ever

Podcast: Don't Let Unconscious Bias Derail Your Workplace

Transcript

David Weisenfeld: I'm David Weisenfeld for XpertHR.com, published by Reed Business Information and proudly partnered with LexisNexis.

On this podcast our focus turns away from Covid-19 to the suffocation death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and its nationwide aftermath.

So how should employers be contributing to the discussion? A thoughtful new article in the Harvard Business Review addresses why US businesses must do more to combat racism, and says there is more than one pandemic affecting US lives and local economies, and it's carrying over into the workplace.

The co-author of that article is Laura Morgan Roberts, a professor at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business and the co-editor of Race, Work and Leadership: New Perspectives on the Black Experience, and we're pleased to have her with us.

Joining us later will be Cindy-Ann Thomas, who co-chairs the EEO and Diversity Practice Group at Littler, the largest global law firm representing employers. But we turn first to Laura Morgan Roberts. Laura, it's great to have you on. [0:01:22.4]

Laura Morgan Roberts: Thank you. Great to be here.

David Weisenfeld: Laura, I'll start with this. Obviously a whirlwind last week or so. From your perspective do we need to hear more from corporate leaders in the aftermath of George Floyd's death? [0:01:38.0]

Laura Morgan Roberts: Well it's been encouraging to see in the past week a massive shift between a few early statements that were released on Thursday to where we are now a week later with a groundswell of statements not just from corporate leaders but it seems anyone who's leading anything. So heads of schools, heads of non-profits, heads of social justice initiatives, heads of community organizations. Anyone who's leading anything right now feels it's important that they all go on record making a public statement against racism in all of its forms.

So hearing more from leaders may have been the call this time last week. I think now a week in the call is, "We want to see more from leaders by way of action."

David Weisenfeld: Yes I want to pick up on that because certainly there has been an uptick in the number of statements but certainly there's a difference between statements that are meaningful and statements where people are saying something just to say something. So what's been your thought as to how meaningful the statements have been? [0:02:55.7]

Laura Morgan Roberts: They do vary. Some statements are more vague and allude to the desire or hope or aspirations for a peaceful and inclusive society, where other statements are very pointed. They are explicit in their references towards the public episodes of racial violence and racial brutality, such as the suffocation of George Floyd, the shooting of Breonna Taylor in her bed, in her home under false premises by the police, and Ahmaud Arbery being shot while jogging in his neighborhood by other people who lived in the neighborhood, not police at all.

So each of those events is deeply disturbing and when a corporate leader says the name of the individual who was harmed, that does represent a pivot instead of having that person become just another number or presuming that they must have been guilty in some way to have had their lives end so tragically. You've got corporate leaders speaking their names from a vantage point of innocence. And that is important to do.

So that's one differentiator - is it vague or is it very specific in terms of pointing to the individuals and the experiences of harm and injustices they have faced?

But some of the statements go further than others in terms of making a public commitment to action. These commitments to action range from a promise - "We stand with you. We stand with our black employees" - to a confession and admission - "We struggle with racism or lack of representation and advancement and equal opportunity within our own organization and we plan to do better" - to promises of investing resources externally - "We're making these donations to social justice causes. We are making a donation or setting up a fund for black-owned business owners or entrepreneurs so that we can try to do our part in remedying some of the ongoing social inequalities."

But I think many people in the workplace are also looking for signs that the culture of their organization is going to change so that it becomes more equitable, more inclusive, a place where people who are African-American, they're from other racial and ethnic backgrounds, feel safe - physically safe and psychologically safe - when they're at work. And they're looking for leaders to lead change in ways that will increase these feelings of safety.

David Weisenfeld: Laura, is there an example of a corporate message that struck just the right tone or at least came really close to the mark that you've seen that you can share? [0:06:06.1]

Laura Morgan Roberts: Well I'll give you one example that I think is worth evaluating as an important point of contrast to say, "Where could you go if you wanted to make the boldest statement?" and that would be Ben & Jerry's statement that was released over the past few days.

Ben & Jerry's doesn't come out and say, "We are pro-diversity and inclusion." They don't even leave it at saying, "We are anti-racist." They say, "It is our responsibility to dismantle white supremacy in all of its forms." So they're really putting forth in that a structural critique of the way that our society functions, trying to address the root cause. Not just saying, "We're going to look for bad actors," or, "We're going to penalize people who are not living or abiding by our espoused values." But they're saying, "There are some things that fundamentally need to be revisited and rebuilt in society, and we want to do our part or have a leading role in making that happen."

But Ben & Jerry's consistently has made really strong statements in their commitment towards social justice, including around issues related to police brutality over the years, so this is not their first public announcement in this space. But I do think by way of contrast to hold up that statement against many of the other statements, leaders could look at that difference and then make a decision for themselves about where their degree of commitment lies at this point in history.

David Weisenfeld: And going back to something you alluded to earlier, and I'm really glad you brought up their names, the power of video really just amazing because what happened to Breonna Taylor and some of the others you mentioned was equally horrific but a lot of people really didn't know those names until the last week or two, or certainly not as many. And I think just the video was just so unbelievably powerful. [0:08:17.5]

Laura Morgan Roberts: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it was incredibly graphic. I said to my MBA students at Darden over the weekend, "Look, I wouldn't watch a scene like that in a movie. Okay? That would traumatize me to watch it if it were orchestrated in a movie."

So to know that that was happening to a human in broad daylight, with witnesses who were filming it all, with such a nonchalant spirit and attitude about the whole encounter. It's just traumatic on many different levels. So yeah, the video provides the evidence, the data that many people often need when you're trying to talk about racism and what it looks like and how it operates and manifests.

And others may counter, "Are you sure you're not being overly sensitive? Or maybe it didn't happen the way you thought it happened. It couldn't have happened that way."

That was also with the Amy Cooper and Chris Cooper incident in Central Park. It was that it was on video and that she said explicitly, "Here's what I'm going to do. Because you tried to assert some degree of authority, even a respectful and civil manner over me, you asked that I would abide by an ordnance or law in the park and I don't believe you have the authority to ask me to do anything. So I'm going to exercise my authority by calling in the police on you." So it is the video that provides that evidence but these ongoing injustices, whether they're in the middle of the street or in the middle of the boardroom, unfortunately are happening quite often. They're just not documented in the same way.

David Weisenfeld: Absolutely. And again we're speaking with Laura Morgan Roberts from the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. And Laura, your article in the Harvard Business Review did a really good job of detailing some common missteps for employers to avoid in responding to events like this and when it just comes to inclusion generally. Talk a little bit about that. [0:10:31.6]

Laura Morgan Roberts: My co-author Ella Washington and I highlighted just three steps. It's not an exhaustive list but it's at least a starting point. And we wrote in the spirit of knowing what was happening in our country, so we were trying to give three simple things for people to remember by way of dos and don'ts that could help in the moment, as we take on this broader step of issues and promoting organizational and social change, okay?

So in that respect the first is to avoid silence. You know, silence is being complicit. Yes, there's a lot of fear. There's a lot of anxiety. People, research shows, are very comfortable talking about diversity and inclusion in general. However, those same people are uncomfortable with talking about race. There's a way of compartmentalizing and silencing the race conversation that has continued even in our D&I circles within corporate America. We've got to talk about it.

And you're probably going to say some things that are wrong or that don't come out the way that you intended, let me put it like that. They don't have the impact that you intended or hoped that they would have. But it takes practice to learn how to talk about these things and it also takes knowledge, so committing to that process of lifelong learning. But you can't be silent. That's one.

Two, avoid becoming overly defensive. Don't make it about you. These conversations are about the injustices that are being imposed upon black people at the hands of the police. That's one of the central conversations. There are other conversations around racism that are also taking place as well. So let that be the center of the conversation.

It's not a question of whether you are feeling validated in that moment or getting the comfort that you need from other people that you're not a horrible person. This is just not the moment for you to seek that from your co-workers and maybe even your bosses who are often on the receiving end of these kind of traumas. So becoming overly defensive means we kind of shut down. We say, "Oh, well they must have done something wrong," or, "What are you trying to say? I'm racist?" And then that cuts off the opportunity for us to learn and engage and go forward.

So the third thing is overgeneralizing and I often hear this is connected to the defensive routine, is that 'in group, out group' categorization. So there's the them out there, and, "Why are they all doing thus-and-so?"

And then there's the idealization of the 'in group,' which is the blaming of the 'out group' and the idealization of the 'in group,' which is, "Well we're all good people. Well none of us here would ever do anything like that." And I hear that as a caveat day in and day out when I'm facilitating these conversations in multicultural groups. And that statement right there can shut down the conversation because it then says, "Look, I'm not willing to consider that anyone in this room, myself included, would have ever done something that was harmful or damaging or biased, insulting to someone else." And then we're not able to move forward.

So those are three default reactions that tend to come up when we try to talk about race, and those are the three things to avoid.

David Weisenfeld: So with that said, how can white employees engage with their black colleagues over this issue because your article cites a blog that notes, "Your co-workers might look like they're okay on Zoom but they're most likely probably not." So what's the best way to engage? [0:14:24.4]

Laura Morgan Roberts: So Ella and I put forth a simple framework, a three-part framework, that can help to guide you best. I would add that even with our three-part framework, which is Acknowledge, Affirm, Act, the engine of this framework, Acknowledge, Affirm, Act is a commitment to a lifelong learning process, okay?

So I mean, for any person at this point if you're curious and you want to know how to help, jump on LinkedIn, start following some diversity and inclusion practitioners. I follow hundreds of them, and I cannot even catalogue the amount of rich, evidence-based advice that's being put forward, and a host of resources in this space that will give you more tips than you can even imagine about how to address this from folks who've been doing this work, testing it out and trying it and really sharing best practices.

So jump in there. Jump in a conversation and start consuming some of that information. Don't rely on black or brown co-workers or other people who feel that they're somewhat on the margins or having a traumatic experience with what's happening to deal with that pain and then also have to try to educate and comfort you at the same time when a lot of the information is available and at your disposal.

So Acknowledge - acknowledge the harm that has been done. Affirm - affirm the right to person-hood, to humanity, to dignity. You say that in words and you say that in deeds. Affirmation is both a word and a deed. You deserve to be treated with the same rights and the same respect as every other human being in this organization and it is my responsibility to make sure that happens.

And so then the third is to Act. And the range of actions goes from initiating a conversation between you and your colleague or co-worker. It could be asking them if they're okay. It could be standing in the gap. It's standing up for that colleague and co-worker.

I often say that if you're confused and you just don't know where to start, check out a Disney movie. And that might sound funny but I mean it in that way. There is a plot line in many Disney movies where you have an outsider who is being targeted or attacked and they have an ally. And at some point in the movie it looks like that outsider is about to be captured and maybe even killed, and the ally steps in the line of fire and says, "No." They vouch for that person's character or that character in a Disney movie.

But that's where your co-workers, when somebody calls them, sort of casts doubt or aspersion or breaks the chain of hierarchy and is not respecting their leadership, authority or responsibility or calling into question their motives or using stereotypical terms to describe them, like 'intimidating' or 'angry' or 'too emotional', call people on that and say, "I thought that what they had to offer was really valid. I think they were passionate about it, but I also thought that they provided us with a lot of evidence for why we should take seriously what they were saying, and I don't think we should just discount that as them being overly emotional."

This is a subtle exchange that happens, but every subtle exchange is an opportunity to intervene and to advocate and to create a more fair and just space and environment for the people with whom you work. You would take up for your brother and sister if they were being attacked or targeted. In that same spirit, what does it look like for you to take up for, or stand up for, a colleague, a co-worker, in school the classmate who was being targeted as well?

David Weisenfeld: Certainly good thought on that one. And final question, Laura, just before we go is, just in your work generally - and I think your last answer might well have done a good job of getting to it - but what is the biggest challenge that you're seeing on a daily basis when it comes to diversity and inclusion? [0:19:09.0]

Laura Morgan Roberts: The biggest challenge is that leaders want to do something on the fly, on the cheap, and they expect like a magic trick that it's going to voila produce the evidence in terms of performance results needed to justify the minimal investment that's been made. You have to work so hard just to persuade leaders to make a sustained investment in this work.

So many D&I leaders and programs were furloughed when Covid hit, in spite of the fact that it was clear immediately that there would be issues of workforce equity that had to be considered in transitioning to working from home, for instance. You know, it's essential to a lot of your listeners in the HR space, but nevertheless the voices of those who were really thinking carefully about issues of diversity, equity and inclusion weren't invited into those conversations. Instead they were sidelined and considered a nice-to-have with a cherry on the top: "Prove to me why we should do this. Give me a business case for it."

In another piece that I wrote for Harvard Business Review with Tony Mayo in 2019 for racially just organizations, we talked about the need to go deeper than the business case to the moral case. And I think our biggest challenge is that we spend so much time trying to justify the business case. And that ROI is real but it takes a long-term investment. And often we have to have a moral commitment to make that long-term investment to see it through - the discomfort, the work, the effort, the sacrifice - so that we can finally appreciate the returns that diversity in representation and diversity of thought will bring to our organizations.

David Weisenfeld: Laura Morgan Roberts is the co-author with Ella Washington of US Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism in the Harvard Business Review, and it's well worth everyone's time to read. Laura, thanks so much for your insights. [0:21:32.8]

Laura Morgan Roberts: Thank you so much. It was great to talk to you today.

David Weisenfeld: For more on this issue I'm joined now by Cindy Ann-Thomas, who co-chairs the EEO and Diversity Practice Group at Littler, the largest global employment and labor law firm representing employers.

Cindy-Ann regularly speaks with HR groups and practices with her firm's Charlotte office. Cindy-Ann, welcome. [0:21:57.0]

Cindy-Ann Thomas: David, thank you for having me.

David Weisenfeld: Cindy-Ann, it's great to have you back on our podcast series, and from your perspective have we heard enough from corporate leaders in the aftermath of George Floyd's death? [0:22:10.4]

Cindy-Ann Thomas: Great question. You know, leadership takes courage. And the messages that leaders must craft to unify and assure their members at a time like this in their organization is so critical, David. So yes. And particularly to be very candid with the sheer absence of leadership on this heart-breaking reality that we are all struggling with in this country at a macro level begs for strong leadership at micro levels. We sadly do not have a healer-in-chief, so we need individual leaders to step in where we are lacking there.

David Weisenfeld: Did any message stand out to you apart from the politicians as falling especially short of the mark? [0:23:02.1]

Cindy-Ann Thomas: Well I've been assisting clients in this area, in crafting messages that they're trying to send out to their organizations, so I have been reviewing many messages. And at the risk of sounding self-serving, the message sent out by the managing directors of my own firm at Littler share a few really outstanding features.

So I guess before I talk about some of the more lacking messages, let's start on a positive note. And I would say that candor is very important in these messages, David. And that's evidenced by word choice. You know, really being straightforward in terms of using the word 'black' or 'African-American,' using words like:

  • 'Murder';
  • 'Racism';
  • 'Injustice';
  • 'Marginalization.'

Candor is so important. Empathy is another important hallmark. Humility. Acknowledging that while you don't have all of the answers, that you want to do more and learn more in this space and be a better corporate citizen, and be a better citizen in general.

And the invitations to reach out and mean it. So those are some of the hallmarks of the best messages that I have seen. And of course we have seen messaging where they didn't get it right, and I know you asked where I have seen that, right David?

David Weisenfeld: Yes.

Cindy-Ann Thomas: And I have to say - and I don't mean to call out organizations - but I probably have been most saddened by the NFL's attempt to rise to the occasion.

David Weisenfeld: Now why is that? Tell our listeners a bit more about where you think the NFL fell short. [0:24:56.4]

Cindy-Ann Thomas: So if you take a look at that message that Commissioner Goodell put out. First of all it was couched in maddening, maddening nuance. It never mentioned race. It never mentioned racism. So there was no ownership about the issue in question. It talked about 'much work to be done' and 'urgent need for action,' but on what? Especially in light of their own silence pertaining to Colin Kaepernick, who first brought attention to this issue four or five years ago and obviously paid the price with his career for doing so. That message, David, it never mentioned murder. It spoke to (and I quote) 'tragic events.'

It spoke to 'loss of loved ones.' Loss of loved ones. David, a nine-minute knee on a person's neck is not a 'loss of a loved one.' It's murder.

David Weisenfeld: Yes.

Cindy-Ann Thomas: A police-fired gunshot to a citizen who was sleeping in the supposed safety or her own house after a hard day's work is not a loss. It's murder. So when we tiptoe around the reality of the current situation that we have, that's getting it wrong.

David Weisenfeld: And when more than 60% of your employees - or in this case players - are black it comes across as especially tone deaf, I would imagine. [0:26:25.2]

Cindy-Ann Thomas: Absolutely. Absolutely. So you have to do more than talk the talk with your communications. You have to back up that talk with actions that give credibility to what it is you say you were feeling.

David Weisenfeld: Well Cindy-Ann, we spoke yesterday in preparation for this podcast, and you said that your phone has been just ringing off the hook from clients. I'm sure you can't go into specifics, but could you just give us a general sense of the nature of those calls in the past week or so? [0:25:59.6]

Cindy-Ann Thomas: Sure. One of the biggest requests that I have been fielding, David, has to do with organizations and leadership wanting to do something, not knowing what, wanting to reach out, and specifically wanting to know if it's okay to reach out to our black employees at this time. And I get it. I do. It's a very heartfelt and genuine request to make sure that they're reaching out to members of their families, if you will, their workplace families to see how they're doing. Wellness checks.

And I will tell you, and I will tell your listeners, that I would be very careful with this very targeted strategy. I get the meaning behind it. I get the intent. But these are decisions that really need to be carefully thought about in terms of:

  • What was the relationship like before this crisis, in peacetime?
  • So how is that person who the leader reaches out to going to receive this interest in their wellness if there were tensions that existed in peacetime?
  • And looking forward, what will you do after the crisis when we're back to peacetime?
  • Will you go back to being aloof?

So the intentions that one may have right now in reaching out to our black members, notwithstanding the good intentions, that strategy may actually backfire if that person went back to, for instance, pre-crisis aloofness.

To that point, David, I would just suggest that outreach is great. It's important. But I would amend the strategy slightly and suggest that managers be reaching out to all employees because in addition to what it is I've just outlined, by singling out African-American employees we potentially neglect other people of color who are experiencing the same, if not more, anguish as a result of everything that's going on. And we also make assumptions that people who are not of color are not feeling what people of color are feeling.

Grief and anguish are essentially colorless. And I understand the pain obviously, I understand the pain that people of color particularly are feeling as a result of the history with respect to police brutality. I mean the numbers and the data are there. But I would certainly just caution leaders to be mindful in organizing an outreach strategy and to think about the value of a more inclusive strategy when figuring out how to reach out to people and whom should be reached out to.

David Weisenfeld: And I would imagine it's an important reminder that you need to have good relationships with all of your employees all along because if you haven't developed those then it's kind of hard to manufacture that when something like this happens. [0:30:48.4]

Cindy-Ann Thomas:Absolutely. And everything that you would have been trying to do really will come back to haunt you because it will strike a chord. It will just come across as disingenuous. And again I don't say any of this to diminish the pains and injustices that people of color have suffered at the hands of rogue law enforcement personnel, but rather to highlight the fact that the grief, compassion and just sheer torment that people are experiencing right now in our current state, David, it really does transcend race and color.

David Weisenfeld: Absolutely. Cindy-Ann, one WNBA player said recently that, "Silence is a knee on my neck.' So following up on what we were just talking about, not at the managerial level, but how can white employees who may not be sure what to say reach out to their black co-workers at this time? [0:31:43.8]

Cindy-Ann Thomas: Absolutely. And again you speak to the issue of just knowing your audience. If it feels natural to reach out to somebody, whether at a managerial level or a peer level, that's completely different. And you know, I can tell you that bystanderism, there is just no room for bystanderism in this era. So intervene. If you see something, say something. And I know that was initially a phrase that's really been designed to interrupt terrorism, but it is relevant here. Intervene. Get involved.

Another strategy I would suggest is to get out of your comfort zone. And what do I mean when I say that? What does that look like? Information is power. Don't wait until February to visit a Black History museum or watch the movie 13th or read the book Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Get out of your comfort zone and get involved and educate and learn about some of the things that we are dealing with. Find out about the perspectives that we are seeing.

Many of us are still in a safer at-home mode right now as a result obviously of Covid-19, but when the world begins to socially reconnect go out and attend a conference or a talk, a community event or a golf tournament hosted by a non-white association.

Also, depending on your relationship with the person in question - again always keep that in mind - act outright. What can I do? Have a conversation. But be careful of what you ask for, right? Because you may surely get it. And you might not like the recommendations. But ask, "What is it that I can do?" And be open to some of the responses that you may get to that question.

Those are some of the offerings that I would give with respect to, "What can we do to reach out?" There is no room for silence and complacency.

David Weisenfeld: Cindy-Ann, obviously the news has been filled with pictures of people protesting in the streets, most of them peacefully, and I wanted to ask you, in line with that should there be greater tolerance for time off requests for peaceful protests from employers? [0:34:09.7]

Cindy-Ann Thomas: Again - and I'm so sorry that I constantly have my attorney hat on, David - but I would caution organizations to be careful with this one from a legal standpoint. Four years ago you might recall after Donald Trump took office we saw quite a spike in activism and street protests - women marches, the immigrant marches, the DACA marches, the Alt-right activity - and one problematic issue with this is that granting time off for protests essentially puts protests, as it did, in the dangerous position really of getting to evaluate what causes deserve time off and which ones don't, right?

So I have certainly counselled against specific protest time off. PTO should not be viewed as protest time off. But if you get creative - and organizations did get creative four years ago when there was an increase in the requests for time off for participating in protests - and some employers would simply give additional time off, let's say three additional days or four additional days or whatever it is, for whatever the employees want them for.

And there are no issues with this strategy really, as long as the company doesn't advocate exactly how employees are using that time. Luckily the P can stand for Personal or Protest, right? And employers shouldn't be asking. And that would be the way that I would suggest that companies kind of work around that.

David Weisenfeld: Cindy-Ann, another issue that comes up with this of course deals with Employee Assistance Programs. What can you tell our listeners about that and how those programs can factor in to help people? [0:36:07.7]

Cindy-Ann Thomas: They can be helpful. People are grieving. We have programs to deal with people who are bereaving the death of a loved one so we also should be engaging in strategies to help deal with the senseless death of people in our respective communities throughout the country. So counseling resources can be helpful.

We're finding and we're seeing that parenting resources for employees, which can be especially tough if you're a single parent, you're working from home. You may be a parent who has elderly people on one end to take care of and your children. So parenting resources are certainly appreciated.

And communication resources for how to talk to your children about what is going on, and what they are seeing on the television and social media. You know, we really can't hide the events from our children in such a transparent world that we are living in. So those are some of the programs that organizations are certainly looking at implementing in their EAPs.

And communication resources for how to talk to your children about what is going on, and what they are seeing on the television and social media. You know, we really can't hide the events from our children in such a transparent world that we are living in. So those are some of the programs that organizations are certainly looking at implementing in their EAPs.

David Weisenfeld: And in our final minute or two, Cindy-Ann, I know you've said it's especially important during this time of budget-cutting that we've seen especially in these last three or four months not to let diversity and inclusion go by the wayside. So can you share some thoughts on that and other steps employers should take to make all of their employees feel included? [0:37:48.3]

Cindy-Ann Thomas: You know, it's easy to support inclusion initiatives in good times. But an organization's true dedication to this space, David, is tested in times of crisis. Like the double crisis we actually have now. We've got this economically crippling pandemic coupled with widespread civil unrest and just this general malaise that people are feeling.

So making sure that your inclusion initiatives are not treated as expendable, notwithstanding these very trying dynamics, is important. It's important. If you were in the process of hiring a diversity manager or a chief diversity officer, don't stop now. If you were rolling out unconscious bias training before all of this happened, don't stop now.

Keep, for instance, engaging in training even if you have to change the mode. Let's say, for instance, it was live training. Find a way to do it virtually. And address the elephant in the room. We know there's a module. We know there's a script, perhaps, with that training program, but be prepared and have your facilitators be prepared to address what is going on. It will be impossible to stick with the script if you are involved in a diversity or an inclusion training program with the way things are right now, David.

So in addition to fortifying your current initiatives related to diversity and inclusion, I would further suggest the check-ins that we were talking about, transparency, communication, your ERGs or your employee resource groups should be ramping up outreach to their respective members. This is the time for activism.

David Weisenfeld: Well those are great recommendations to end on, so we'll let that be the final word. Cindy-Ann Thomas co-chairs the EEO and Diversity Practice Group at Littler, where she represents employers.

Cindy-Ann, I truly appreciate your perspectives and hope the next time we have you on it's a less troublesome time for sure. [0:40:04.2]

Cindy-Ann Thomas: So do I, David. Thank you so much for having me for this important discussion.

David Weisenfeld: I'm David Weisenfeld. Continue checking our website regularly for more podcasts affecting the workplace, including Covid-19 Employer Reopening Complaince Challenges.

The opinions expressed in this program do not represent legal advice, nor should they necessarily be taken as the views of XpertHR or its employees. XpertHR.com is published by Reed Business Information, and is proudly partnered with LexisNexis.

For more information about XpertHR, our subscription offering, or our 50-state Employee Handbook, call us toll free at 1-855-973-7847.