Dvorah Stein of South Africa is founder of The Hive, working as a People and Culture Strategist and certified coach. She is a faculty member, Developmentor and Assessor at Integral+ Africa’s Coaching Centre with a background in Industrial Psychology. She finds purpose in supporting individuals, teams and organisations to navigate change, tap into their hidden power, activate their culture, transform obstacles and ignite innate potential.
In the context of the global pandemic, we are all learning to get comfortable with the uncertainty and ambiguity of the current moment.
But there is another shift that needs to happen: let’s talk about race relations within our businesses. We are petrified of having the real conversations, of the messiness that will emerge when we have spent so much time sanitising the surface of the issue and ticking boxes for compliance. We are unskilled in this area, and don’t know how to hold the tension or navigate the flood of human experience, vulnerability and emotion.
Just as we have had to face the pandemic, we need to begin this powerful, uncomfortable and above-all necessary journey, for the sake of our collective humanity. Racism too, is a global issue, and South African businesses are avoiding the tough topic – to their detriment.
The fact is that in a business context, not addressing racism has an impact on corporate culture, and in turn on the business’s ability to perform and grow.
Why? Because we know that organisational culture affects the bottom line and research has revealed that companies with strong cultures see a four times increase in revenue growth.
Satisfied employees also outperform their peers by 20%, and this is attributed to 12% more productivity. We literally can’t afford to avoid addressing race and racism within our institutions.
Organisations need to learn to listen, and to work on their individual and collective bias and systemic blind spots in order to begin to create strong cultures.
Businesses that achieve this can then begin to truly celebrate diversity and leverage the unique and rich perspectives and experiences that their people bring. In recent months we’ve had no choice but to live with the uncomfortable. We can use this practice to face the discomfort: look racism in the eye and address it head on.