Stephanie Creary empowers middle managers to facilitate racial justice conversations

June 24, 2020

Center for Positive Organizations (CPO) Research Advisory Board member Stephanie Creary offers guidance for middle managers in the Wharton opinion piece “How to Begin Talking About Race in the Workplace.”

The piece acknowledges that, as more executives speak out publicly against racial injustice, ill-equipped middle managers often are left to facilitate conversations around the topic with their teams. Creary offers practical strategies to help mid-level managers address issues of race and equity in corporate environments. In particular, her RACE framework offers the following suggestions:

R – Reduce anxiety by talking about race anyway.
A – Accept that anything related to race is either going to be visible or invisible.
C – Call on internal and external allies for help.
E – Expect that you will need to provide some “answers,” practical tools, skill-based frameworks, etc.

“It is normal for managers to question whether they are doing ‘the right thing’ when it comes to addressing issues of race and racism in the workplace,” Creary writes. “Yet, to eradicate systemic racism, it is important for managers to empower employees and provide them with resources for having productive conversations about race. Grounding these conversations in evidence and good intentions is better than not talking about race at all.”

Creary is an Assistant Professor of Management at the University of Pennsylvania.