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raceAhead: July 7, 2016

The concept of inclusion, the idea that people from a variety of backgrounds can “bring their whole selves to work and thrive,” is a lofty and beautiful one. But when a traumatic event occurs– like the most recent two police shootings of black men — that means employees are going to be affected emotionally.

And as horrifying as these events may be — and things have been particularly horrifying lately — that presents employers an opportunity to incorporate compassion into their management systems.

First some background. On Wednesday, Philandro Castile was pulled over for a routine traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and was shot in his seat in front of his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter. The encounter was live-streamed on Facebook by his distraught partner. Things were already tense. On Tuesday night, Alton Sterling, a father of five, was pinned down and shot by two police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, setting off a wave of protests and triggering a federal investigation.

Graphic video and images of the two shootings have been widely circulated and discussed online.

Now imagine a young associate watches a video of one of the shootings, shares it on Twitter, expresses fear and outrage, gets attacked by a troll, then walks into a staff meeting.

“Maybe she’s upset, even visibly shaken,” says Dnika J. Travis, the vice president, Women of Color Research & Center Leader, Catalyst Research Center for Corporate Practice. “And she decides to sit in silence, unable to participate in the meeting, because she’s afraid her feelings will be dismissed.” How will her colleagues or manager interpret her silence? Is she not a team player? Are aspects of her job suddenly worrisome – for example, driving to visit accounts in heavily policed neighborhoods?

Things get complicated when the event is a highly-charged one, like those involving systemic racism and state violence. “This isn’t a natural disaster, where everyone is aligned right away. This is difficult stuff to process,” says Alison Davis-Blake, professor of business and former dean at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. “But a compassionate organization cultivates a sense of empathy for those who are suffering. And the first thing is for leaders to be present, talking, listening, and acknowledging that something specific has happened, and that some people may have concerns.”

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On Point

Trump loves the Jews, according to his son-in-law

Pamela Kruger sorts through the latest kerfuffle from the Trump campaign, which started after it posted a photo of Hillary Clinton featuring a six-pointed star that many saw as a Star of David over a pile of money. Caught in the controversy is son-in-law Jared Kushner, real estate developer and owner of the New York Observer who was called out in his own paper for not denouncing Trump’s well-documented courting of white supremacists.
Fortune


Bank accused of redlining agrees to settlement
BancorpSouth has agreed to pay more than $10 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the Justice Department and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) accusing the company of charging significantly higher rates for mortgages to minorities or denying them entirely. Branches in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi were implicated. Audio evidence found a BancorpSouth manager told loan officers that applications from black people must be turned down within 21 days, followed by racial comments and laughter.
MS News Now



Corporations are funding pre-MBA programs
Pre-MBA programs are on the rise, giving promising students of color some needed coaching and support before they transition to business school. These programs tend to be underwritten by corporations looking to diversify their ranks, and offer a variety of experiences, including remedial studies and boot camps. (Behind paywall.)
Wall Street Journal


Calling out racism in Silicon Valley
Technologist and entrepreneur Anil Dash published a lengthy and blistering thread on Twitter to his 587,000 followers, drawing a distinction between the entrepreneurial “disruptive” business models of Silicon Valley, like Uber, and the fact that two black men were shot by police while selling cheap goods directly to consumers. “Will the tech leaders making billions while ignoring the laws about markets that they enter speak up for these men? Defend them?”
Twitter


‘Bad Feminist’ author talks about police violence 
Author and professor Roxane Gay unpacks the pain of watching yet another grainy video of yet another police shooting, this time, chronicling the death of Alton Sterling. (It was published before the equally horrific video of Philander Castile was posted.) She acknowledges the voyeuristic nature of watching these types of videos, while also saying, “It’s overwhelming to see what we are up against, to live in a world where too many people have their fingers on the triggers of guns aimed directly at black people.”
The Guardian

 

The Woke Leader



Cops see things differently and that’s a problem
Worth revisiting: Last year, “This American Life” ran two hours of programming about policing and race, exploring communities where relationships are deadly and terrible, and where they seem to be improving. The reporting is excellent, but it’s hard not to feel discouraged by how little progress has been made, particularly when police officers are unwilling to talk about the issues that arise. 
This American Life



Small talk in America is confusing if you’re not American
For the Fourth of July, The New Yorker asked writers to describe a person or experience that captures a uniquely American aspect of life. Author Karan Mahajan chose ‘small talk,’ a way of interacting that he initially found intellectually dishonest and ingratiating. His bemusement is both funny and revealing. “American life is based on a reassurance that we like one another but won’t violate each other’s privacies,” he says.
The New Yorker


50 great, culturally diverse books
Also worth revisiting: The Guardian’s exhaustive list of the 50 best, most culturally diverse kid’s books from 1950 to today. An extraordinary resource for parents, libraries, summer programs and day care centers. There’s a section for teens, too. All of the suggestions are perfect escapes from difficult news. And print doesn’t have hyper-links, tweets or video! 
The Guardian

 

Quote

It was absolutely clear that the police would whip you and take you in as long as they could get away with it, and that everyone else—housewives, taxi-drivers, elevator boys, dishwashers, bartenders, lawyers, judges, doctors, and grocers—would never, by the operation of any generous human feeling, cease to use you as an outlet for his frustrations and hostilities.
—James Baldwin