The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Racism After Hours

As HR professionals we spend a lot of time carefully wording non-discrimination policies.  We brainstorm diversity efforts.  We talk about inclusion with the utmost sincerity.   Commendable and necessary, but for anyone who has had to conduct an investigation, there is no denying that racism is ugly.   And I’d venture to say that it’s even uglier after everyone goes home for the day.  Need proof?  Watch the hate crimes featured on the evening news, or go online and read reactions to world events, the most hateful posts written by those who opt to remain anonymous  (which alone signals to me that they know they are choosing wrong over right).

I’m not asserting that HR solves all the issues of workplace discrimination but for the same reason you fully heed that stop sign near the town police station, your employees probably have a good idea by now as to what is acceptable and what is not.

So should we try and impact employees’ behavior after they take off their badges?  Arguably, it’s overreaching and smells of “big brother.” But if not us, who then?  We’ve got employees’ attention for the better part of the day.  It’s time to think beyond the off-the-shelf training video with the facilitator crib sheet.  Life lessons may take a little more effort, but progress has to start somewhere.

For information about CUPA-HR’s initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion, see Andy Brantley’s recent post/call to action to higher education HR professionals.