D&I: Power, Privilege and Racism at Work | Template Guide

Get yourself ready to run the 'D&I: Power, Privilege & Racism in the Workplace' template

Introduction

The discourse about racial inequalities in the workplace is, very often, seen as a result of racism that is primarily treated as individual behaviour, as opposed to patterns that are shaped by structural and institutional factors. This template on the topic “Power, Privilege & Racism in the Workplace” created in partnership with D&I experts from Generation 2.0 RED aims at shifting the conversation towards systemic racism.

In particular, the template helps to acknowledge how the problem of earned and unearned privilege, and therefore the power that comes with it, produces systematically unequal outcomes for racialised groups in institutions such as the workplace.

The workshop will enable participants from all types of companies and organisations to initiate an honest conversation about race, encompassing culture and religion, by challenging participants and nudging them to reflect on their own experiences and perspectives of power and privilege. The goal is to deepen the understanding of the subject and identify actions to foster equality in the workplace.

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Objective & Key question:

The objective of this workshop is for participants and teams to gain the tools and confidence to recognise and call out structural and institutional racism, and commit to being an anti-racist ally. Therefore, the workshop has been shaped accordingly, and all the activities lead to addressing the key question:  

How can reflecting on our individual power and privileges help us identify and resolve barriers that affect racial inequalities in the workplace?

Activities:

1. Share - Finish the sentence:

The session will begin with an activity to break the ice, key to creating a safe space among employees who work together. Participants will finish the sentence “An example of how I experience Power & Privilege is...” and complete it with their personal experience. You can read more about how the Finish the Sentence activity works here.

Generation 2.0 RED has formulated a sentence related to how participants experience the race, power and privilege dynamics aiming at encouraging both “oppressors” and “oppressed” participants to reflect and share their perspectives, while raising awareness, among the participants, on their individual approach to this sensitive topic

Generation 2.0 has formulated a sentence related to how participants experience the dynamics of power, privilege, and race, aiming at encouraging both oppressors and oppressed participants to reflect and share their perspectives and raise awareness on how each participant approaches this sensitive topic.

Tip: For some participants, power, privilege & race might be uncomfortable or upsetting to explore, especially when it relates to their advantages. This is well anticipated - however, the point of the session is to stick with the challenge, embrace discomfort, and, thus, change!
2. Frame - Custom single dimension:

After breaking the ice, the session will now get into it’s main content creation phase. With Custom Single Dimension (read more about the specific activity here), participants will work together towards identifying the key themes that will structure the conversation. 

To do so, participants will first share ideas in relation to a context word - which is a "barrier". Taking into consideration the key question, the goal in this phase is to identify possible barriers created by the prevailing power structures that, consciously or unconsciously, often go unscrutinised, encourage racial inequalities in the workplace, and reinforce structural and institutional racism.

Barriers are obstacles that prevent change. They can also be seen as challenges. Generation 2.0 RED has identified some key barriers informed by its research and experience, such as:

1. White supremacy - The systemic and systematic ways in which western societies ensure benefits to white individuals enabling them to maintain power over individuals of other races, generating and legitimating racial hierarchies and privileges.

2. Negative Stereotypes - The unfavourable beliefs and attitudes that are held and reproduced towards a particular race. Negative stereotypes usually appear together with negative emotions (discomfort, blame, guilt, etc.).

3. Positive Stereotypes - The favourable beliefs and attitudes that are held and reproduced towards a particular race. Positive stereotypes usually appear together with positive emotions (trust, empathy, interest, etc.).

4. Unconscious Bias - The unsupported beliefs and attitudes towards a particular race, outside the conscious awareness and often incompatible with the conscious values, that lead individuals to racially biased decision-making.

Other forms of barriers can be, for example: microaggressions and colour blindness. Participants can explore these pre-submitted ideas and contribute with any new input. The host will then transform these key barriers into themes (max 8) during the theme creation step. These themes will structure the conversation during the next activity, so that participants will be able to generate ideas and solutions specific to the different themes identified.

Tip: Reflective practice is key to recognise the barriers created through race, power & privilege dynamics. Encouraging the participants to think about past events and actions taken may help them understand its manifestations. Helpful questions for the reflective practice are:

- What is the current situation in my workplace? Are different races of the society equally represented?
- Who benefits from racial inequalities and who suffers from them not being solved?
- Are the people most affected by this problem represented in the decision-making process?
- How have I, personally, contributed to this problem?

3. Create - Idea creator:

Once the participants have identified the barriers that make them experience or perpetuate racial inequalities in the workplace and transformed them into themes, solutions can be found; this step will be done through the Idea Creator activity (read more about it here). The question below helps focus on getting to a good outcome:

Q: What solutions can we find to overcome the barriers preventing racialised minorities from fully participating in the workspace?

The solutions may vary depending on the size and the needs of each company or organisation. The point is to develop a set of tools using a lean thinking approach that can be both practical and transformative. Depending on the context of your organisation, there are different solution you could start investigating - to help you get the conversation started, here are some ideas:

  • Racial equity and inclusion data collection to assess the situation
  • Impact of possible incident of racism in employees’ surveys
  • Policies that prohibit racial discrimination in the workplace
  • Setting up a focal point for reporting racism incidents or inequalities
  • Cultural competency trainings
  • Implicit preference trainings
  • Historical research on the dynamics of racism, and how it is translated in the labour market
Tip: A great way for participants to think of solutions is to encourage them to think of ways to unlearn racial biases taught by the society. Some questions that can help out are:  Where do these beliefs come from? And why is this making me uncomfortable? What were the circumstances then and what are they now?

In addition, participants may be encouraged to think ways that will help them relearn practices that truly dismantle structural and institutional racism. For example, some individuals may prefer mentorship, others may prefer online seminars or trainings.  

4. Evaluate - Dot voting:

During this phase, participants will collectively vote for the solutions most realistic and suitable to their working environment. Participants will have 10 dots and will be able to assign them to the ideas they prefer - learn more about the Dot Voting activity here.

Tip: Voting the solutions against the barriers identified in the previous stages involves a streamlined approach in questioning traditional power dynamics. Suggest to participants not to subvert the effort by distancing themselves and focus on the facts given in the previous activities.
5. Action - Action list:

The final phase of the workshop is executing the solutions found with owners and due dates. This final activity will ensure concrete and actionable next steps can be identified. Find more information about the Action List activity here.

 

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Best practices for running the session:

We recommend a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 30 participants per session.

This workshop is suitable for everyone. However, Generation 2.0 RED recommends involving: 

  • Participants coming from ,different departments and hierarchies, as homogenous groups tend to have similar views
  • Participants coming from diverse cultural backgrounds
  • To prioritise key stakeholders such as: HR employees and employees in decision making and leadership positions. 

Prior to the session:

Test yourself for hidden biases: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html

Suggest participants read the following resources:

Watch the videos below:

 

During the session:

  • Remind participants, as frequently as possible, that inputs are anonymous enabling them to speak their truth
  • Give time and space to participants to think. Certain participants may find the questions difficult, especially if it is a topic they have not encountered in the past

After the session:

  • Build a report based on the information and results exported and send it to all employees internally
  • Sustain behaviour change by monitoring the progress on the agreed actions
  • Undergo racial equity audits to assess your advancement in racial equity.

About Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality & Diversity

Generation 2.0 RED is an initiative launched by a group of young people with migrant origins. Operating as an informal group as far back as 2006, referred to as ‘Second Generation’, the mission was focused on securing the right to citizenship for the otherwise invisible generation of children, born and/or raised in Greece from migrant backgrounds. In 2008, the group started collaborating closely with the “Institute for Human Rights, Equality and Diversity (i-RED)”, an independent research institute that aims at connecting scientific evidence with field experiences. In December 2013, the group officially merged with i-RED, resulting into one organisation, Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality and Diversity, based in Athens, Greece.

Today, Generation 2.0 RED is a nonprofit organisation and consists of an interdisciplinary team, representing a mix of ethnicities and social backgrounds, sharing the common vision that all of us have the right to equal and active citizenry on an individual and communal level. Generation 2.0 RED’s mission focuses on individual and community empowerment, equal participation in a diverse society following a holistic approach with action and research, aiming to promote human rights, equality and diversity and tackle racism, xenophobia and discriminative behaviours against people of different origins, nationalities, race, colour, religions, including any type of intersectionality. Its core action are Advocacy, Legal Counselling, DiversityEmployability, the Diversity in the Workplace Network, and Non-Formal Education.

Get in touch with Generation 2.0 RED:

https://g2red.org/

info@g2red.org

Get in touch with Axis D&I team:

diversity@axis-workshops.com




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