Four Ways to Create a Truly Empowering Workplace
The numbers sound grim: More than one out of three people of colour in Canada—as many as one half—report being highly on guard to protect themselves against bias. In addition, as many as 69% of those who are highly on guard say they have a high intent to quit their jobs.
But Catalyst’s new report, Empowering Workplaces Combat Emotional Tax for People of Colour in Canada, also found that Canadian employers can counter this trend by creating empowering work environments.
“This is something that all people can do in their workplaces by using a few strategies,” says Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon, PhD, who co-authored the report with Alixandra Pollack and Olufemi Olu-Lafe, PhD.
At work I’m always processing how much of myself, my true authentic self, I can share. I have to think about, “Will anyone find this off-putting?”—“Jordan,” Black man, one of the interviewees for the report
The first step is to reconsider what it means for workers to be empowered.
Empowerment is something that is owned by an individual or community. Statements like “I empower my team,” “I empower you,” or “Leaders empower their people” are commonplace, but the reality is that a manager―or any person―can’t empower another person. Using statements like “I empower you” suggests that it’s up to the leaders to bestow power, which actually can be disempowering.
Still, a manager can help create an environment so that someone can feel or be empowered. Catalyst research points to four key strategies:
Leaders who embrace these strategies may contribute to countering emotional tax and they will also create empowering workplaces where employees feel able to be themselves and contribute. Ultimately, this leads to a more inclusive, productive workplace for everyone.
|Emotional Tax—which we first described in 2016—is the combination of:
Danielle creates marketing materials and digital content for social channels. A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Danielle lives in Forest Hills, NY, with her teenage son.