HR professionals play role in ensuring equal opportunities

Carlene Goldthwaite

This summer, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) issued the results of a study on the persistence of racial inequity in the workplace.

Titled “The Journey to Equity and Inclusion,” the study revealed that 49 percent of Black HR professionals said discrimination based on race or ethnicity exists in their workplaces in contrast to only 13 percent of their white colleagues. Over a third of Black workers said they experienced discriminatory or unsafe working conditions. Black and white workers alike said their workplaces aren’t doing enough to promote racial justice.

SHRM issued a challenge to its more than 200,000 members in the United States to take steps to create more equitable workplaces.

As part of a multi-phase response to this challenge, the Western Colorado Human Resource Association included a diversity, equity and inclusion track in its fall conference. Speakers shared their workplace experiences as members of traditionally marginalized groups, including people of color, those with disabilities and those on the LGBTQIAA++ spectrum. John Register, a Black Paralympic silver medalist, encouraged those attending the conference to remain aware of overt and hidden biases that perpetuate injustice in the workplace.

Institutionalized discriminatory practices include a lack of opportunity in hiring, promotions or skill development. People of color or other marginalized groups also encounter interpersonal barriers or microaggressions. They’re left out of projects or face slights, inappropriate jokes or a culture that expects workers to “get over it” when treated unfairly.

The SHRM TogetherForward@Work initiative encourages and equips business leaders and HR professionals with diversity, equity and inclusion policy and plan templates, webinars, self-assessments and conversation starters.

Johnny Taylor, chief executive officer of SHRM, will work with the U.S. Department of Justice in implementing an executive order on combating race and sex stereotyping. Taylor will join in an effort to help HR professionals understand new training requirements for federal contractors.

Locally, WCHRA continued its diversity, equity and inclusion journey with a presentation titled “Recognizing Hidden Bias” scheduled for an Oct. 21 monthly meeting. In managing businesses, leaders review data, talk with stakeholders and perform due diligence, yet find individuals’ hidden biases affect those decisions. Having biases is part of being human, and helpful biases allow people to navigate successfully in the world. But unhelpful or harmful biases can get in the way and impose significant effects.

Adrian Lara, lead regional training coordinator for the Kempe Center and CEO of Compass Coaching, was scheduled to share his insights on recognizing hidden bias. Lara was scheduled to define different types of bias, discuss how biases can be both helpful and harmful and detail how to mitigate the effects of harmful bias in business decisions.

Lara said he’s passionate about making changes that reconfigure patriarchy and white supremacy to create workplaces where every employee has an opportunity to succeed.