Policies to Consider for Ensuring Racial Equity Within Your Growing Business

Article

Diversity and Inclusion is something for companies of all sizes to consider. Especially when your business is growing, the founders, managers, and directors have a lot of influence over the diversity of their workforce. By utilizing internal policies and mechanisms, you can set your business on an inclusive and impactful path early on. As a business leader, you carry the responsibility of making sure your workplace promotes racial equity. In this article, we focus on the written policies your business can use to lay down your commitments in a transparent and accountable manner. The following 4 policies can be used to promote racial equity in the workplace of any growing business:

1. Diversity Policy

A diversity policy ideally addresses two main points: (1) how you create a safe and inclusive work environment for all employees and (2) how you address a situation where someone has been discriminated against. Moreover, research shows that in order for your diversity policy to be effective, it needs employee support. One way to increase effectiveness is to frame your diversity policy as a way to address discrimination in the workplace, rather than increase diversity. Although the latter is equally as important, workers tend to show more willingness to support a policy that addresses social inequality around them. Anti-racism practices should however be led from the top, and your leadership therefore carries great responsibility to increase adherence to the Diversity Policy.

Key provisions to include:

  • Your goals and aims
  • Employee responsibilities
  • Manager responsibilities
  • Description of how complaints are dealt with

2. Whistleblowing Policy

Although the Whistleblowing Policy serves many purposes, it should definitely be used to address discrimination in the workplace. This Policy is used to create a framework that can be used by employees to bring wrongdoings to the attention of the company’s leadership. It is however key that employees must be able to do so in a safe environment and without receiving any unfair treatment afterwards.

Key provisions to include:

  • Describe the duty to make a complaint and for which misconduct this is necessary  
  • Describe the procedure of how to make a complaint
  • Commit to fair treatment and confidentiality
  • Detail how complaints will be investigated

3. Hiring Policy

Removing racism and discrimination from your hiring practices is fundamental to increasing diversity within your business. Particularly for growing companies, hiring is a crucial step. Attracting and retaining talent and investing in human capital can make or break a growing business. Similar to the Whistleblowing Policy, a Hiring Policy will serve multiple purposes. However, there are key racial equity provisions you may want to consider to improve your hiring practices.

 Key provisions to include:

  • Use formal criteria to hire, promote, and reward employees
  • Describe hiring processes used that reduce bias, such as structured interviews or blind hiring
  • Specify the mentorship and guidance offered that ensure talent of colour is supported throughout their hiring and career at your business
  • Specify that leadership is required to carefully document decisions made relating to hiring, working conditions, pay, benefits, promotion, etc. and how these decisions are monitored against bias

4. Anti-Harassment / Anti-Discrimination Policy

Anti-Harassment Policies should specify a zero-tolerance stance with regard to harassment and discrimination. For the purpose of this article, we’ll now focus on harassment and discrimination with a view to race. You can also separate the Anti-Harassment policy from an Anti-Discrimination Policy.

Key provisions to include:

  • Expressly include anti-discrimination as a standard in this Policy
  • Clearly describe what discrimination is and how it may directly or indirectly take place
  • Set up a complaint procedure and refer to the possibility of using the Whistleblowing procedure
  • Describe the training, education, and monitoring programs implemented by the business to prevent harassment and discrimination
  • Detail the responsibilities of staff and leadership of the business

As can be seen, implementing these policies are not just a matter of writing down what you think is needed for your business. Rather, you will have to pro-actively set up mechanisms to prevent, handle, and resolve threats to racial equity in the work environment. The frameworks provided by these 4 policies will ensure that you have the proper tools to continuously monitor and review (potential) issues. Ensuring racial equity is not done through writing policies; you will have to uphold your commitments on a day-to-day basis and make sure that your staff does the same.