Q: Is it too late? As a manager, I missed Pride Month. I never said anything about Black Lives Matter or other social injustices. Is it too late, or will it seem less than sincere if I start a conversation or issue a memo, or somehow try to address this issue within my organization?
A: It’s never too late. You’re not alone as a leader who’s uncomfortable about composing a message about highly sensitive topics. However, the only way to move forward with this agenda is to dedicate yourself to learning more about it. While it is your responsibility to educate yourself on what people in these groups are experiencing and going through, you may also want to find a guide, a coach, or someone you trust, who can help you articulate the message that you want to deliver and put together an action plan for your organization that you can be dedicated to. Keep in mind that your authenticity is vital in any communication you create.
While learning more about the kinds of experiences your LGBT+ and black employees are facing, you may also discover more causes and issues than you realized existed. Other groups are marginalized and affected by prejudices as well. You want to make sure your activism and communication is intersectional and can include issues that are inclusive of Black Lives Matter, Pride Month, and other areas of social inequality and civil rights.
The enormity of reading materials out there can be overwhelming. Work to understand what you can, and look for trusted sources who can help you navigate and develop a deeper understanding of the nomenclature. They’re not hidden, but there are underlying agendas that might not be as readily available to you. If you find a word you don’t understand, look it up. These deeper dives into learning the complexity of these issues that your employees may face can give you a broader understanding as a whole of how you can develop yourself and develop your organization to be more knowledgeable and more positive in terms of making the changes that you’d like to see.
These aren’t issues that will go away overnight, so your long-term dedication to addressing these issues is more important than being timely in addressing Pride Month or Black History Month, as opposed to addressing these kinds of issues every day. These aren’t anniversary issues or Hallmark issues. These are issues of daily life. You don’t want your activism to be performative.
When you’re looking for an advisor, remember that it’s no one else’s job to educate you – certainly not your employees. Every person has their own comfort level when it comes to dealing with whether or how these issues impact them. If you have an employee whose feedback you’re seeking, but they don’t want to engage with you on any of these issues, be respectful. This isn’t their duty, and you are not issuing a command performance of “bare your soul.”
Deliver the message; it is not too late.