Robbie Green, The Working Mom’s Coach & Coach at Talking Talent
There is major importance in the ‘right voice’ being heard during this incredibly delicate time in our history. And yes, you are witnessing HISTORY right now. Because of the overwhelming reactions around the world, the death of George Floyd has sparked the largest anti-racism movement in recorded history.
All of a sudden, it is like the veil has been lifted, off the eyes of many white Americans. It’s as if perfect vision for the masses came with the year 2020. For some, it seems this ‘racism thing’ just showed up in this country. Well, it didn’t. It’s been here for 401 years. But now, daily, we are witnessing people who never considered how the other side actually lives, have an overwhelming compulsion to do something. There has been a literal shift in the atmosphere. It may have come years past the deadline that any of us set for change, but I believe it’s right on time. We need to focus our energy on the opportunity at hand, our chance to make a difference, and not the time it took to manifest.
I have seen numerous white people raise their hands and say, “It’s not enough for me not to be racist, I need to be anti-racist. What books can I read to learn more?” In a moment of my own transparency, I had a wrinkle in my forehead about this question: “What can I read to learn more?” My initial reaction was, do you really need a book to show you what has been going on for the last 401 years? I shared these sentiments with my 20-year-old daughter and her response was quite intriguing. She said, “Yeah Momma. They need a book because many of them think this is something like a cool story. They are fascinated by it – this racism.”
She’s right. And then I realized, that truth exists because of the two Americas we live in. I recognize that as a Black female American, I live in my own world of ‘Black America’, as I simultaneously have to live in ‘White America’. The difference is white Americans only live in White America. Their lifestyles never have to be adjusted because of Black America’s existence. When a large portion of American history got omitted from the textbooks, that knowledge went lacking for black and white people alike. White America now needs a history lesson about why our (Black) history went missing in the first place.
No matter how shocking it may sound to someone else, you simply don’t know what you don’t know. Your perception is your reality. And only your life experiences can create your character and build your countenance for injustice. If all men and women are ever to be considered equal, all men and women have to have an opportunity for their stories to be told and heard. So, now that the veil has been lifted, what do we do next? We LISTEN to enact real change.
L – Lean In. Lean in and have real conversations with your employees – but listen more than you speak and see how they are really feeling. During this time, it is important to ask tough, and very pointed questions to jumpstart change at your organization. These conversations will be uncomfortable, but they are necessary. My best friend recently told me that the difference we are destined to make in this world has nothing to do with how we feel. So, in other words, get over yourself and get to work. And my grandmother used to tell me, anything worth having, is worth a little trouble. These concepts are especially true for leaders in business, and justice for all is definitely worth having.
I – Interview People – Again. This exercise will not be for the faint of heart. It’s not for ‘bosses’ who are only concerned with being a boss, this exercise is for ‘leaders’ who are only concerned with being better. Sit down with people again, like you did when you hired them. But, instead of the initial, “So, why do you think you are a good fit for our company?” ask “Do you ever feel like you are a misfit at this company? Help me understand why or why not”. Instead of, “Tell me about a time you overcame difficulty in your current role at your current company,” say, “Tell me about a time you or your family faced racial discrimination. How did it affect you?” Now here’s the kicker – switch seats.
S – Support Where Needed. As a professional coach for working moms, I coach black women who are concerned about their black son’s safety. I coach white moms who are sincerely concerned about the state of the world. I have also heard from women who say their sons have asked them, “Am I going to be shot by the police?” It’s heart-breaking, but it’s real. So, go to your employees and ask them what they need, and offer solutions at the same time. Ask them, “How can we support you at this time? Would it help if we brought in a professional coach that specifically works with working moms to be a resource to you? Would it help if we had open-ended dialogue as a team?”
T – Take the Time Needed. Remember, this is year 401. Therefore, true change will take time. Be committed to be an active participant, until…
E – Enlist the Help of a Professional Coach. To help you have these conversations, I encourage you to ask for the help you need as an organization. As an employer facing such a significant yet delicate topic, no one expects you to have all the right words to say. Wise men and women seek counsel.
N – Nurture the Wounds of the People. It matters what you say, it also matters how you say it. Choose your words wisely, but don’t be timid. This is a time for transparency, compassion, and love. Now, the reality is, all of these things do not come naturally for all people. And if they don’t, that’s OK. See E.
Robbie Green, is a certified professional coach and a Working Parent Coach at Talking Talent. She coaches working parents, with a strong focus on Working Moms. Her goal is to give working mothers M.O.R.E., so that they can: Manage mom guilt, Overcome being overwhelmed, be Reassured of their relevance, and get Excited instead exhausted about this life we get to live as Moms.
She has a Masters degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, but most importantly, she has been a working mom for the last 23 years. Her work has appeared in Thrive Global, and she is a repeat expert guest on WRAL-TV.