May 26, 2020: When the Woman on the Left Called the Woman on the Right
The two women in the headline photo embarked on a journey on May 26, 2020, the day after George Floyd was murdered. The woman on the left reached out to the woman on the right to ask, "How are you doing? What is going on in the world right now?"
That phone call sparked a conversation on race between the two women, Margaret H. Greenberg and Gina Greenlee, who had met more than 20 years earlier in the workplace and remained friends ever since.
That conversation about race went public when they launched their LinkedIn series: Discussing the Undiscussables, on Juneteenth, 2020. With support and engagement from so many business professionals on this platform that series grew into a book, The Business of Race. McGraw Hill will publish The Business of Race in August 2021, and has made it available for pre-order today.
We believe the workplace is the perfect place to advance race work. Here's why.
As business professionals, we know that before you attempt to implement any change whatsoever – develop a new product, redesign your company website, launch a strategic initiative – you will first survey the landscape both internal and external. You will identify stakeholders (who need to be in the "room where it happens"), end users, data gather and understand what came before. You wouldn't think of embarking on a business venture without forethought and planning. We believe race work is no different.
You can't solve what you don't talk about.
For too long, the workplace has outsourced the uncomfortable work of addressing systemic racism to the police, politicians, talk show hosts, celebrities, red carpet sound bites and "reality" TV. It’s time for change. The workplace is the perfect place to constructively address race because it's where hundreds of thousands of people gather daily to pursue a shared purpose. And it's often the first or only place people interact with others from a different race or cultural background. Regardless of our hierarchical position within an organization, we each can take a stand. Systemic racism can only be addressed with systemic change.
But you can't solve what you don't talk about.
Talking about race and racism in the workplace has been taboo for so long. That's why organizations must ready their environments–at both the individual and enterprise levels–before diving headfirst. The inner work of raising our own awareness and creating new ways of thinking and being, and the outer work organizations must perform to develop and implement strategies, initiatives, policies and practices to reimagine a racially equitable workplace are journeys, not programs.
Systemic racism can only be addressed with systemic change.
The Business of Race is a practical guide for employees and business leaders alike who are struggling with both how to talk about race and what to do about it. The book offers concrete ways businesses large and small can make positive, sustainable changes to bring more racial diversity, inclusion and equity to the workplace. Readers will learn more than a half-dozen tools that bring an asset view of race, rather than a deficit view, such as SOAR and growth mindset. Readers will also learn to reach for familiar tools they use nearly every day, such as strategic planning and project management, to implement other priorities and apply them to the deeply complex, emotional and intimidating dynamic of race in the workplace. But don’t confuse accessibility with ease. This is hard work.
Woven throughout are interviews from more than two-dozen business professionals across diverse industries, fields, and organizational levels. Their stories are not meant to be formulaic. Rather, they bring voice to the challenges and opportunities businesses face every day and give the reader the courage they need to embark on or continue their own race journey.
We look forward to you joining us on this continued journey.