I’m afraid to speak out about racial injustice – what should I do?

By | June 21, 2020

I am a senior-level leader in an organization and feel compelled to speak up about racial injustice, but I’m afraid to. With all of the sensitivity around these issues, as a white man, I’m afraid that I will say something that will be misinterpreted and I will do more harm than good — for my career too. Staying silent seems wrong but safer. Am I alone in this? What do you suggest?

You are not alone, my friend. I hear it all the time — countless people with good intentions quietly fear the same thing. They also see how swiftly social platforms turn into a modern-day Roman Colosseum, where attacking people online for saying the wrong thing is almost a blood sport. Now, some people do say really stupid things and deserve the backlash, but I believe that most people have good hearts yet don’t know how to speak about such matters. So, for many, reticence is understandable. We need to educate ourselves and each other and be more understanding of intentions. The issue of how to talk about race is important, and there are credible voices and resources to turn to for advice online. You should also speak to other leaders internally, and if there is someone who is responsible for diversity and inclusion, turn to them and simply say: “I want to speak up — help me [with] how to do it.”

There is a hidden communications platform at work to spread jokes, GIFs and cartoons. They are inappropriate at best and downright offensive at worst. Should I report this? Is it unlawful even if it is on a private phone?

If the content is offensive, then it doesn’t matter how it is shared at work — it is likely a violation of company policy at best and unlawful at worst. If you are receiving texts you find objectionable, respond to the text as such and tell them to stop sharing. Merely blocking or removing yourself from the chat group isn’t enough. Whether you report the behavior or try to remedy the situation depends on several factors, including how pervasive the practice is, how offensive, and who is doing it. Those are judgment calls, but it must be addressed — and stopped.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive. E-mail your questions to GoToGreg@NYPost.com. Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at GoToGreg.com, dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work.

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