How to avoid burning out your black employees right now
"Black people did not create these problems."
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Rep. Barbara Lee calls for a commission on racial healing, Kathy Sullivan sets a record in space and at the bottom of the sea, and we learn about how not to burn out black employees and colleagues. Have a healthy Wednesday.
– Black employee burnout. As we well know now, the George Floyd protests have prompted new conversations in American workplaces about race and racism, unearthing or simply reemphasizing employer shortcomings and prompting promises of change. Underrepresentation must be righted. Pay gaps must be closed. Blind spots must see the sun. These corporate epiphanies are commendable, however self-righteous and overdue.
What they are not is the sole responsibility of black employees. So writes Najoh Tita-Reid, senior executive of marketing reinvention at Logitech, .
“Don’t get me wrong,” she writes. “Black Americans are glad that finally after 400 years, there is mass outrage at racial injustice. Many of us have been fighting for change our entire lives, and were taught by our parents that it was our job to uplift our race. And we are glad that nonblack people want to be part of the solution.”
But even in this moment intended to rightly recognize black employees there’s a risk of further weighing them down.
The burden of “dismantling systemic racism must not be placed solely on black employees by asking them to fully lead diversity and antiracism efforts,” she writes. “Black people did not create these problems, so please do not expect us to resolve them alone. After all, we are exhausted.”
Burning out black employees is a real risk right now. “[W]e are leading race relations task forces, peacefully protesting, and working to protect our families that are disproportionately dying from COVID-19 and police brutality,” she writes. And that’s on top of “[having] our jobs to do.”
In her piece for Fortune, Tita-Reid offers tips on avoiding “black burnout while proactively improving your company’s approach to race.” Tip No. 1? “Do not inundate your black colleagues with requests to help you understand and solve racial injustice as if it is their duty.”
You can read more of her thoughtful guidance here.
Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe.