A Spark for Change

By Shane Power, Watertree Health President

George Floyd’s murder has mobilized our entire nation, and the world, to stand up against racism and racial injustice. On the Monday after his death, I knew I could not be silent. After speaking on our company-wide call, I posted a similar message on LinkedIn. I called on fellow leaders to do more and challenged everyone to be a spark for justice and social change:

We believe we have an opportunity to do more to fight racial injustice, and because we have representatives in almost every local community across our country, we have an opportunity to create a spark for change. We have been challenging our team all week to be a spark for change against these horrific racial injustices and bring people together. We believe everyone deserves Love, Respect, Friendship, and Safety. This is not a political statement, it’s a statement of loving all people, human rights, and standing together to say we will not let our friends throughout the country be oppressed and suffer injustice anymore, it has to change NOW! To my fellow leaders in different industries—it’s time for us to do more and challenge our teams to be a spark for justice and change!

Now, more so than ever, it’s important to evaluate our own biases, question our belief systems and judgments, and look at our surroundings to ask ourselves, “how can we be better?” We are not going to dismantle systemic oppression overnight, but there are steps we can take as leaders to move towards positive change in the workplace.

  1. Listen to and engage with your employees on issues relating to racial discrimination and social injustice–often people are afraid to speak up due to the sensitivity of such issues. Create an environment where employees feel able to have an open dialogue and raise any issues they encounter.
  2. Consider establishing a diversity and inclusion committee or diversity champion to drive change, which may encompass organizational change, changes in company values, or a change in business practices.
  3. Many employers have an equal opportunities policy in place but may not have reviewed the effectiveness of their procedures in responding to and dealing with allegations of racism in the workplace. Review your policies and consult with your employees on ways processes may be improved.
  4. Review your recruitment practices and your diversity and inclusion statistics–where could you do better?

James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We promise to continue listening, learning, and taking action in order to evolve as a company and help create a more inclusive, equitable world.