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Harvard Business Review: How Employee Assistance Programs Can Help Your Whole Company Address Racism at Work

Harvard Business Review: How Employee Assistance Programs Can Help Your Whole Company Address Racism at Work

Part of WiFi (What I Find Interesting) Wednesday.


Harvard Business Review: How Employee Assistance Programs Can Help Your Whole Company Address Racism at Work

Read How Employee Assistance Programs Can Help Your Whole Company Address Racism at Work by Jodi Jacobson Frey, from Harvard Business Review, October 14, 2020.

Most workplaces have contract services with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or have in-house staff to provide a multitude of services. While they are often used for short-term counseling or managing workplace management skill development, they can provide more services – such as organizational assessment, management consultation and strategic crisis prevention and response.

EAP counselors, such as the ones described in the article, receive social work training, which allows them to not only help staff deal with individual issues but also how to deal with systemic issues.

EAP professionals have confided that they felt powerless after working one-on-one with an employee who is suffering the effects of racism. Simply offering stress management support did not feel adequate, and they lacked a line of communication to management to report the need for systemic change.

Similarly, EAP managers are receiving calls from managers and supervisors whose employees are requesting workplace meetings to discuss issues of race and racism. And workplace leaders are asking how their EAPs can play a bigger role in helping to influence system-level change to combat racism.

by Jodi Jacobson Frey, from Harvard Business Review, October 14, 2020

The author, Jodi Jacobson Frey, Ph.D., LCSW-C is a professor at The University of Maryland, School of Social Work and a licensed clinical social worker, who  recommends the following six strategies to make use of services that may be already paid for:

  1. Encourage a data-driven approach to customized EAP services.
  2. Support an EAP counselor and affiliate network that is responsive to your workplace.
  3. Encourage managers and other leaders to take advantage of the EAP for themselves.
  4. Create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion advisory committee that includes your EAP.
  5. Recognize racism as trauma.
  6. Establish a plan for ongoing feedback to sustain this important work.

The suggestions in the article were very rich with questions to ask, so a summary feels inappropriate – but read through the article to find out what questions you can begin asking in your own organization. And at the very least, if your EAP is not providing these services – either look for a new outsourced EAP that does or send your current in-house staff to receive more training.

Read How Employee Assistance Programs Can Help Your Whole Company Address Racism at Work by Jodi Jacobson Frey, from Harvard Business Review, October 14, 2020.


Future U Podcast: Blurring the Lines of the University

Listen to Blurring the Lines of the University from Future U Podcast, October 6, 2020

Future U Podcast covers what’s next for higher ed, and in this episode talks about how Southern New Hampshire University, what Covid-19 and the recession will and won’t accelerate, and how the distinction between learning online and on campus may fade in the years to come.

Season 4, Episode 5: Blurring the lines of the university Future U Podcast

Southern New Hampshire University has skyrocketed to the top of largest higher education institutions over the past decade, as its president, Paul LeBlanc, has led it through a dramatic transformation. In this episode, LeBlanc talks about the perilous state of higher education, its importance for the nation and world, what Covid-19 and the recession will … Continue reading Season 4, Episode 5: Blurring the lines of the university →
  1. Season 4, Episode 5: Blurring the lines of the university
  2. Season 4, Episode 4: Will graduate schools face a reckoning in 2020?

One of the best quotes from SNHU President Paul LeBlanc, “Don’t try to win the Kentucky Derby with a donkey” draws attention to how institutions that need to change in the face of the pandemic need to look at their best assets and improve them, rather than respond with the weakest version that their competitors offer.

He also speaks to meeting the needs of the number of people currently unemployed, asking what do those workers need and learning how to best serve those workers with thoughtful experiences, programs and degrees.

I really enjoyed the entire podcast and think you will find it interesting.

Continue listening to Blurring the Lines of the University from Future U Podcast, October 6, 2020


New York Times: Their Bosses Asked Them to Lead Diversity Reviews. Guess Why.

Read Their Bosses Asked Them to Lead Diversity Reviews. Guess Why. by Jennifer Miller, from The New York Times, October 12, 2020.

As a professional in diversity education, I have often found myself asked to lead a number of exercises for people in the organization – and with my training it was a natural ask. But in the continued wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, companies are often reaching out to people within (and sometimes outside) of the organization to do the training – the Black staff they employ and often the targets of the racism and the culture it cultivates.

For many Black professionals, the experience of being asked — or even required — to lead or participate in a company’s diversity and inclusion work simply because of their race is an uncomfortable ritual.

As the corporate world continues its attempt to respond to the Black Lives Matter movement, such requests threaten to undermine the inclusion efforts they’re supposed to promote. Bosses, managers and colleagues — well-intentioned or otherwise — often fail to recognize the emotional and professional stakes of giving Black employees D.E.I. tasks, like reviewing or writing company statements, leading anti-racism meetings or heading employee resource groups, especially when it’s not their area of expertise.

“I feel strongly that current employees should avoid and not be asked to become the ‘expert’ on diversity, equity and inclusion within their organizations,” Ms. Kim Crowder said. “They are often not protected and don’t have the power to make changes.”

by Jennifer Miller, from The New York Times, October 12, 2020

Often, organizations are unaware of what the work requires – such as knowing the difference between the words they use to describe the work: diversity, equity, and inclusion. Having worked in predominantly white higher education institutions, I know first-hand that these words are used as synonyms for simple diversity, without addressing issues of power and access once diverse groups of people are brought on-board.

Often, employers don’t know the difference between diversity, equity and inclusion. “The No. 1 question everyone is asking right now is, ‘How do we hire more people of color?’ or ‘How do we have more Black candidates in our pipeline?’” Ms. Kim said. That only addresses diversity; it ignores equity, equally distributing resources based on the specific needs of underrepresented groups; and inclusion, having real decision-making power. “We need to be specific about naming the problem we’re trying to solve and prescribing the right medicine,” Ms. Kim said. “That’s anti-racism training.”

by Jennifer Miller, from The New York Times, October 12, 2020

Continue reading Their Bosses Asked Them to Lead Diversity Reviews. Guess Why. by Jennifer Miller, from The New York Times, October 12, 2020.


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