• Yulkendy Valdez

How can employers respond to the George Floyd Injustice?

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

How can employers respond to the George Floyd Injustice? Hire, Mentor, Sponsor, and Promote Black talent

Black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as White Americans to be shot and killed by police officers. 

In Minnesota, Black Americans are nearly four times as likely to be killed by law enforcement, with Black victims comprising 20% of those killed, despite representing only 5 % of the overall population (Al Jazeera).


On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year old Black man who was unarmed, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by a White police officer. 

Many of us are not okay knowing that he won’t be the last victim of blatant racism and police brutality. 

He won’t be the last one until we rid all of our systems of racism. An excellent place to start is the business community, as, especially during a pandemic, a job can be a matter of life and death. 

Black professionals are nearly four times as likely as white professionals to say they have experienced racial prejudice at work (Center for Talent Innovation).

Racial injustice in our communities mirrors racial injustice in the workplace. 

On March 13th, Breona Taylor, a 26-year old Black woman, an emergency room technician, was shot at least eight times and killed by police officers in her home. She would have turned 27 on June 5th. 

Nearly one-fifth of women of color reported feelings of invisibility and exclusion at work. Currently, zero African American women are running Fortune 500 companies, despite 64% of Black women in the US, stating their goal is to make it to the top of their profession (HBR). 

For employers that do stand with #BlackLivesMatter and understand that it is more than a hashtag, there are many things we can do as a business community to build new anti-racist systems.

Hire Black talent 💡 

Although we might not be hiring as many people right now, this is an excellent time to strengthen our pipeline of black talent. 

✔️ Schedule 1-1 informal Zoom calls with Black talent from HBCUs, coding boot camps, workforce development initiatives, youth programs. It is time to encourage our managers and senior leadership to contribute their time as well. 

✔️ Mitigate bias in your hiring process. If there are systems in place that police Black hair, dress code, or any part of the body, it is time to change them. 

✔️ Invest in upskilling and training programs for in-demand roles in technology and business. Talent is everywhere, but resources are not evenly distributed. If we want to have a workforce where the population of our Black employees reflects our communities, invest in workforce development. Start as early as high school. 

Mentor AND Sponsor 💡  

Even though employees are working from home, this is not the time to freeze our talent initiatives. We need to show our employees that we care about them and their challenges more than ever. 

✔️  Senior leaders need to mentor Black talent actively. A great place to start mentoring initiatives is to create and support Black employee resource groups. 

✔️ Mentoring, by itself, is not the end-all. Sponsoring initiatives must also be built-in. How often are we saying the name of Black professionals in important meetings? How many of the critical client projects are assigned to Black talent? Black employees shouldn’t just have a seat at the table; they want to lead the table, and for that to happen, you need to make room.

Promote 💡 

For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 60 Black women are (PBS). There are racist and sexist systems getting in the way. 

Everyone in the company should know what it takes to get promoted.

✔️ Ensure there are equitable feedback loops in place, and all performance reviews are checked for any signs of racial and gender bias. 

✔️ Promote Black talent and make sure they are represented in every level of your organization, including in your Board of Directors. 

It is crucial to step up for racial injustice in our communities and make public statements that stand for Black Lives Matter. To create transformative change, we must also step up in our workplaces.