Accountability in racist experiences can be equally awkward and traumatizing for activists and victims, with that said, we cannot slide such grievous matters under the mat and hope that some miraculous solution will suffice. At the workplace or a community level, it is most difficult to hold some colleagues and definitely superiors accountable! That does not mean that it can't be done, we must still try.
While this article will focus on workplace accountability approaches, the same approaches can be implemented within different groups where racial conversations and experiences and prevalent.
One can hold colleagues and superiors accountable for racist behaviour by taking action to address and stop behaviour that is discriminatory and harmful towards individuals or groups based on their race. This includes identifying and addressing racist attitudes, language and actions, and imposing consequences for racist behaviour, in order to create a safe and inclusive work environment for all employees.
Here are some strategies organizations can use to hold colleagues and superiors accountable for racist behaviour:
Clearly define and communicate what racist behaviour is: Organizations should provide clear and specific examples of what racist behaviour is and how it will be dealt with, this should be communicated to all employees and included in the company's policies and procedures.
Establish a clear and consistent process for reporting and investigating complaints of racist behaviour: Organizations should establish a clear and consistent process for reporting and investigating complaints of racist behaviour, and ensure that all complaints are taken seriously and investigated in a timely manner.
Provide support and resources for employees who experience racist behaviour: Organizations should provide support and resources for employees who experience racist behaviour, such as access to psychological counselling and other forms of support, and ensure that employees feel safe and supported when reporting racist behaviour.
Hold individuals and leaders accountable: Organizations should hold individuals and leaders accountable for their actions, including imposing consequences for racist behaviour, such as disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment for actions that put racialized colleagues in unsafe working conditions.
Encourage bystander intervention: Encourage employees to intervene when they witness racist behaviour and provide training on how to do so in a safe and effective way.
Implement cultural sensitivity and anti-racism training: Organizations should provide regular anti-racism and cultural sensitivity training to all employees, in order to raise awareness of the impact of racist behaviour, and to equip employees with the skills they need to challenge and change these attitudes and behaviours.
Overall, holding colleagues and superiors accountable for racist behaviour requires a commitment and awareness of the implications of racist experiences toward victims. The damage of trauma that stems from racism is long-term and expensive to manage. The above strategies can help to create that needed safe and inclusive work environment for all employees. Aspire to build a workshop where racist behaviour is not tolerated.
Eve Akinyi Aboka (2023), https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/holding-colleagues-superiors-accountable-racist-behaviour-aboka-%3FtrackingId=yDXdjiIG7v%252B%252Fz7Xgzo3jFg%253D%253D/?trackingId=yDXdjiIG7v%2B%2Fz7Xgzo3jFg%3D%3D