Creating a Space to Talk and be Vulnerable

By Marshawn Wolley, President and CEO, Black Onyx Management

Last weekend ten Black people were murdered in Buffalo, New York, while shopping for groceries. That was an act of domestic terrorism fueled by the Great Replacement Theory (GRT).

In some of my meetings this week with clients, I’ve facilitated a space to talk about the Buffalo shooting. Often black employees feel these incidents increase a feeling of isolation within their organizations when no one recognizes what happened. It’s an issue of belonging when there are national incidents of this nature and senior leadership is silent. 

As we raise our level of consciousness on the implications of racism in our society, there is an opportunity to understand how national incidents and hate crimes like the Buffalo shooting impacts employees. Belonging in an organization is about how people feel about their work experience and if they can bring their full self to work.

Things to consider as leaders in your organization:

  • While all employees may not experience national events like the shooting in Buffalo in the same way, consider creating a space for employees to talk and be vulnerable if they choose. 
  • It is not the expectation for managers to respond to all national issues addressed by the President, however, it is a best practice for managers to take some level of action. 
  • Traumatic events are a good time to remind employees about mental health benefits and resources available in your organizations.
  • This is also an opportunity to learn about racial trauma. Reviewing local sources and educational resources can be empowering during times of racial trauma. 

The following article has good data and references the collective grief scenario I’ve been experiencing with my clients this week. ‘We don’t feel safe’: Many Black Americans experiencing grief, trauma after Buffalo shooting.

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