Our Guide to the Summer 2021 Issue

These summaries will help you navigate our summer 2021 lineup.

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Fighting Backlash to Racial Equity Efforts

Rosalind M. Chow, L. Taylor Phillips, Brian S. Lowery, and Miguel M. Unzueta

As the U.S. faced a new racial reckoning last year, many corporations
committed to dramatically increase their focus on racial equality — then the hard work of making changes to live up to those promises began.

Not surprisingly, diversity and equity initiatives, which include cultivating a critical understanding of systemic racism, are meeting resistance. Those who are benefiting from the current system tend to oppose changing it, and people have a basic need to see themselves in a positive light and as deserving of what they have. Corporate leaders must speak to two internal constituent groups: employees who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) and their allies; and White employees who may not accept the idea of structural racism.

Understanding why racial equity initiatives provoke opposition is the first step toward helping an organization through cultural transformation. The authors offer three ways of dealing with backlash: countering denial and distortion with data, countering distancing and distortion through collaboration, and countering distortion with a vision grounded in justice. Ultimately, leaders must leverage our human inclination to think of ourselves as good, along with our need to think of our systems as fair and just, so that people see a role for themselves in the dismantling of racist systems and in actively engaging with anti-racism efforts.

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Cultivating an Inclusive Culture Through Personal Networks

Rob Cross, Kevin Oakes, and Connor Cross

Many organizations have ramped up their investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion — largely in the form of anti-bias training, employee resource groups, mentoring programs, and added DEI functions and roles. But organizations must also assess employee experience: If people aren’t equitably developed and promoted once they come on board, they’re not as likely to stay.

Research shows that for employees of color, their network connections — that is, their interactions and collaborations both within and outside of their functional groups — can accelerate their rates of promotion and increase retention.

Especially important to effectively integrating underrepresented groups into the organization are the ties these employees develop with peers. The authors found that receiving career advice and feedback from colleagues who were at most one level up in the organization was more important than getting mentoring from senior-level people.

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