“It’s now more crucial than ever for those in management roles to give employees explicit permission and opportunities to carve out time for themselves during the workday."
Luis Alvarez—Getty Images
By Ellen McGirt
February 12, 2019

Here’s a random list of things that are currently bruising my brain:

A BBC cameraman was attacked last night by a man who had been driven to violence by the rhetoric at the Trump rally he was covering. Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world. A group of journalists was outed for harassing women, people of color, and LGBTQ advocates online – for over a decade. (See below.) Conflicts over diversity are driving public wedges between employees. Hate crimes ticked up three years in a row in the U.S. White men hate diversity training and believe they’re being left behind.

And now, everyone is all about the blackface. I’m exhausted.

But so is everyone else. Regularly absorbing news of violence or division is disconcerting, even more so for people from underrepresented groups for whom these emotional assaults live as a form of terror in their lives.

Conversations with diversity practitioners, allies, corporate employees, and experts are an essential part of my race beat, and I typically leave these conversations energized and informed. But lately, the conversations have turned dark.

On more than a dozen occasions in the past seven days alone, someone has shared with me that they are overwhelmed by the news, discouraged by a lack of progress in their work, and operating with a serious emotional deficit. They feel like their ability to be effective is suffering.

My unscientific survey results: The exhaustion is spilling into the workplace, and bruising the brains of underrepresented talent and all those whose job it is to care about diversity and inclusion. If this is you, please feel affirmed – you’re not alone.

We haven’t covered self-care in raceAhead in ages, but it’s long overdue. Most of the tips are things everyone knows to do – here are some great ones from Mercer – but fall away when under siege: Take a break from the grind. Eat healthy food. Stay hydrated. Get good rest. Spend time in nature and/or in spiritual settings. Look at art or listen to music. Scrub your social feeds of harassers or trolls. Spend time with people who love you (or alone.) Seek help if you need it.

But it’s also incumbent upon managers to check-in with team members, says NPHR, a human resources firm on the nonprofit sector.

“It’s now more crucial than ever for those in management roles to give employees explicit permission and opportunities to carve out time for themselves during the workday,” they say in this helpful post. “This can be as simple and straightforward as saying ‘I noticed you seem really stressed. Let’s go for a walk and talk about how your colleagues or I can help or ‘You know, you haven’t taken any time off lately. Let’s talk about what I need to take over in order for you to have a four-day weekend.’”

It’s the noticing that helps build trust. Best of all, it’s a simple tactic for majority culture managers who want to make sure their colleagues feel safe enough to ask for what they need to continue to do their jobs.

(Also – does your workplace have a formal domestic violence policy? It should.)

Either way, checking in with peers and direct reports when things happen in the news should be, by now, a best practice for inclusive organizations. But when things are happening all the time, corporate empathy needs to be systemic.


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