Businesses must take action against racism, Laura Morgan Roberts writes in Harvard Business Review

June 18, 2020

Center for Positive Organizations (CPO) faculty affiliate Laura Morgan Roberts co-writes the Harvard Business Review article, “U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism,” amidst massive demonstrations against racial injustice throughout the country.

Roberts and co-author Ella F. Washington offer practical guidance on how businesses can express compassion for employees who experience racism in their everyday lives and initiate action that promotes racial justice.

“Research shows that how organizations respond to large-scale, diversity-related events that receive significant media attention can either help employees feel psychologically safe or contribute to racial identity threat and mistrust of institutions of authority,” the researchers write. “Without adequate support, minority employees are likely to perceive their environments as more interpersonally and institutionally biased against them. Leaders seeking to create an inclusive environment for everyone must find ways to address these topics.

“Racism isn’t just Black people’s problem; it’s everyone’s problem because it erodes the fabric of society,” Roberts and Washington write. “Leaders at every level must use their power, platforms, and resources to help employees and communities overcome these challenges and build a better world for us all.”

Roberts is a Professor of Practice at the University of Virginia. Her book, Race, Work and Leadership: New Perspectives on the Black Experience, was published by the Harvard Business Review Press.