Processing emotionally charged events can impact people in ways that are difficult to manage. What can be done to support them?
Say their names. Say their names and talk about it. This is the call to action made by Tiffany Sturdivant, Enspira’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB) manager, in response to the trial verdict in Ahmaud Arbery’s murder.
Last year, three vigilante white men killed a young Black man jogging through an affluent neighborhood. The country has continued to suffer more deaths, including Ryan Leroux, Daniel Prude, Brayla Stone, and others. Too many Black, Indigenous andPeople of Color (BIPOC) die in a culture dominated by people who do not look like them. Processing these events and emotionally charged issues can affect us morally and spiritually in ways that can be hard to manage.
These injustices don't happen in a vacuum; employees and employers should not expect to check these human experiences at the door. How can a company respond when these events arise? What language should be encouraged and what actions discouraged as a corporate community struggles to process these powerful emotions? How can these initiatives give voice to those marginalized and create spaces of empowerment?
These are the questions Sturdivant posed, along with Leesa Hill, senior director of DEIB, and Rebecca Harris, DEIB director, in creating the Executive Brief: Ahmaud Arbery Verdict.
In drafting the brief, Sturdivant and the DEIB team wanted to create a safe-space framework for tough conversations in the workplace and humanize the office environment. This approach minimizes discomfort and provides the opportunity for all voices to drive the work of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
“Talking about these events can be tough. Providing recommendations, talking points, and documents our clients can use to help start those conversations makes it a little easier,” says Sturdivant. “Sometimes, because of the sensitivity of these topics, people may be afraid to even broach them.”
Enspira crafted this executive summary for clients’ use, but also for the company’s own internal response to the trial verdict, sending all-hands emails and posting on social media to offer support to those who needed it.
“We checked in with our people. We had drop-in office hours where Enspira employees could stop by to ask questions and talk about how they could respond, in hopes of taking some of the burden off their shoulders. We took action. We walked the talk,” says Sturdivant.
This wasn’t the first time Enspira created a brief in response to a trial verdict. When the verdict was announced for the George Floyd murder trial, the company created asimilar brief to help companies and their employees process the intense emotions it evoked.
How can companies apply the Ahmaud Arbery brief in response to the verdict in the shooting of Daunte Wright? How can a company create a culture of empathy and safety in response to social injustices? While solutions to violence and racism may not come from the workplace, there are myriad ways employers can positively shape their responses to support staff and clients.
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