Black chefs in Columbus say their day-to-day experiences with institutional racism, missed opportunities and unconscious bias have largely remained the same despite public outcry in the wake of George Floyd's death, but their voices are beginning to be heard. "[The coronavirus pandemic has] given us the vocabulary and the ability to talk about our challenges without being seen as whiners who decided to be in the wrong industry," says chef Matthew Heaggans.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order forbidding government vendors from conducting diversity training that covers unconscious bias, white privilege or critical race theory, warning it could result in contracts being "canceled, terminated, or suspended in whole or in part and the contractor may be declared ineligible for further Government contracts." American Association of Advertising Agencies President and CEO Marla Kaplowitz says, "Agencies could potentially have to create or subscribe to different diversity training programs to comply with the new Order at great expense and complexity to many small and mid-size agencies."
Southeastern Grocers and Pa'lante, its Hispanic employee resource group, have planned a series of celebrations through Oct. 15 for Hispanic Heritage Month and to recognize the contributions of Hispanic leaders. The events will be held at all of the company's banner stores, including Fresco y Mas, which first opened near Miami in 2016 and has since grown to 26 sites in Florida.
San Francisco's Lolo is serving up comfort during the pandemic with cocktails canned in-house and new additions to the menu that work for both takeout and dine-in, such as the birria inspired by chef Jorge Martinez Lillard's father's love of the hearty stew. "I was thinking about meat that would be comforting and work well wrapped in a burrito, be easy to take home and would be the same experience as if you ate it right away in the restaurant," Lillard said.
Foraging has long been a valued practice for people of color and low-income communities, with gathered ingredients sometimes yielding greater nutritional benefits than store-bought produce, writes Molly Glick. However, foraging is banned within many US cities, and wealthy, white elites are increasingly co-opting the practice with menus full of ramps, chanterelles and morels.
The pandemic is slowing strides in workplace equality brought around by the #MeToo movement, says Time's Up Now President and CEO Tina Tchen. "Before Covid hit, you saw a reckoning from companies," but remote work and economic uncertainty are making it difficult for leaders to recognize and address problems, she says.
Employers must be conscious of ensuring the safety of workers from diverse backgrounds, particularly as minority workers battle inadequate training, communication barriers and other challenges. Safety professionals should be conscious of personal biases while ensuring proper protective equipment is available for all workers, says Cori Wong, assistant vice president for gender equity at Colorado State University.
Microaggressions walk hand in hand with racial bias that white people are often not aware they have, according to a University of Washington study. Participants with the highest levels of racial bias agreed with the statement "A lot of minorities are too sensitive these days."
Flexible working schedules have become more important during the pandemic to attract and keep staff, and companies such as Elephant Ventures have even seen productivity rise with the introduction of four-day weeks. Employee recognition is also vital for a productive, engaged workforce, giving employers an incentive to introduce online channels that facilitate real-time rewards and peer-to-peer recognition.
Apologizing for a mistake is hard enough, but doing it in an online forum brings its own challenges, write Bruce Hennes and Nora Jacobs, who recommend that leaders write a script, practice it and ensure that lighting and other factors are perfect. "If you can't memorize your apology and deliver it without stumbling, consider attaching notes to your desktop screen (without blocking your camera) containing key phrases to prompt you through your delivery," they write.
A Seat at the Table, episode 2: How businesses can become anti-racist with Dr. Kerry Mitchell Brown
How can a business be anti-racist? Racism and how to dismantle it are hot button issues right now. Businesses that are most successful at tackling these problems see anti-racism as mission critical. In the latest episode of A Seat at the Table, Dr. Kerry Mitchell Brown, a racial equity consultant who specializes in helping organizations adopt anti-racist best practices, discusses concrete steps businesses can take in the fight against racism. Listen to A Seat at the Table in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.