There seems to be a bigger virus lurking other than COVID 19 in many of the workplaces in the US as well as in Canada, and that is racism!
Racial discrimination is a malicious virus that not only robs a person of dignity, respect, and self-worth but also at times kills their soul. Then why urgent steps have not been taken to find a cure?
The current anti-Black racism and police impunity protest happening not only in North America, but also in other major cities around the world such as in London, Paris, and Sydney has been ignited by the violent death of Black American, George Floyd, by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
This revolt has been brewing for some time because many of the racialized communities, especially the African-Americans in the US and the Indigenous people in Canada, have been treated unfairly when it comes to justice, medical, housing, and employment, etc.
This ongoing chaos in the streets should be a wake-up call for all CEOS, managers, supervisors and human resources personnel to make sure that racism is not present in their workplaces. If racism is not acknowledged and proper measures are not taken, then the consequences can be detrimental as we are seeing right now on the streets.
To overcome racism, which is a learned behaviour, diversity and cultural sensitivity education must be made mandatory starting in kindergarten as well in all the workplaces. This delicate but vital training must be carried out on a regular basis, not only once in a while. People need to hear the message more than once to change their points of view towards people who have different skin colour, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc.
For participants to buy into this concept they need to know how their lives are also going to change for the better. In the workplace, understanding one another on a deeper level often brings greater cultural harmony which usually leads to greater productivity and profits.
For any concrete outcomes to happen, it needs to start at the top as recently Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, stated that systematic racism also exists in Canada which must be addressed. Let’s hope this time around it’s just more than words.
Furthermore, since the fabric of the Canadian and American societies is primarily based on laws and policies that are biased towards people of color, therefore, individuals of power who often are white old men need to first listen and then incorporate the necessary changes.
When it comes to racism, I have encountered much of my life. I can still recall one of my high school teachers would often remind me that there was no need for me to better myself in English because I was going to end up working in a sawmill. And then when I got into broadcasting, radio listeners would often call in to complain, saying “Take that Hindu off the air”, failing to realize that I am a Sikh. That was when I had to briefly change my on-air name to Tony Gill.
Racism is alike rust on a car, if not dealt with it swiftly, then it engulfs the entire frame. That is exactly what is happening right now on a world stage. Let’s all talk about it in the open and see what steps can be taken to move humanity to a better place.