To Address Workplace Equity, We Must Discuss White Welfare

As I explore the words and legacy of MLK Jr. , particularly on the day he is federally observed in these United States, this video clip resonates above the single oft-quoted sentences from his I Have a Dream Speech or any other blurb snatched out of its context to propagate a passive, colorblind, palatable acquiescence of racial injustice, ironically also often used by the majority as a cudgel to silence black discordant and asynchronous voices.


The reason this particular clip resonates with me is because King calls to remembrance the historicity of white welfare and the hypocritical double-standards placed by the majority against Black progress. 


For any company that claims to be intentional on the matter of #equity, there is an uncomfortable truth all white-majority organizations must accept: white welfare is not only alive, but the main factor that drives the performance, pay and retention gaps between white and non-white talent. Organizations are not equitable or inclusive in their provision of professional development, sales, client relationship building, or networking opportunities. Such opportunities materialize outside of the formalized programs half-heartedly shuffled about by HR and full-heartedly externally marketed for the benefit of a company’s brand. Yes, the most exciting and accelerated opportunities happen within the closed social networks that organizations have inherently developed by way of their employees.


Creating equitable environments today means a practical engagement and disruption of the exclusive social networks that allow professional institutions to thrive. When organizational leaders lead the charge – not the external program specialists, but the leaders with the internal social capital – lead the infusion inclusion in this way will equity truly begin to start. There is a saying popular in today’s time: “Diversity is being invited to the party, Inclusion is being asked to dance.” This framing is helpful for a majority who finds the subject matter of race, equity, and justice discomforting, but it oversimplifies the reality that there’s often the party everyone is invited to, and then there’s the smaller after-party where attendance is invite-only and public promotion is discouraged. No one has to be invited to dance at this party – you wouldn’t be there otherwise. The question is, when, if ever, will the majority allow entrance to the real party?





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