At Quartz at Work, we often think about the workplace as just another arena in which life happens. It’s a setting for relationship building, creative quests, minding mental health, finding purpose—but also the constant, often unconscious reinforcement of life’s inequalities, including those built into the world’s racial and socioeconomic power structures.
We also think work can provide an opportunity to make a conscious effort to lean into diversity and the innovation it brings, and to create a more equitable economy by rethinking the way companies and the people who run them go about their business. In other words, the workplace can be a source of the kinds of changes needed to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of racial and economic equity a reality.
Over the past year, the need to connect the lines between injustices outside the office, in white supremacist movements and police violence, for example, with corporate workplace norms—which have been shaped by white culture—has felt especially pressing. That urgency inspired Quartz at Work senior reporter Sarah Todd to spearhead a fantastic, jam-packed series of stories in 2020 about how to build antiracist companies, and inspired several thoughtful essays by contributors and staffers investigating the experiences of Black Americans in the workplace, past and present.
Here we’ve collected several of our top stories on race in the workplace as an MLK Day reading list. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us what resonates with you, and other topics in this area that you would like to see us cover.
What does it mean to be an antiracist company? How can employers, business schools, and other shapers of workplace culture combat injustices and inequalities within their ranks and in the wider world?
- How to turn corporate antiracism from promise to practice
- Is your business model antiracist?
- What an antiracist workplace looks like
- How to build an actively antiracist company
- Can MBA programs build a new generation of antiracist leaders?
Have better conversations about race
It’s hard to reckon with other people’s reality without open and honest dialogue.
- How to have more productive conversations about race in the workplace
- The case for using literature to kickstart conversations about race at work
- The principles of conflict resolution can help build antiracist workplaces
Company culture and allyship
Diversity and inclusion are not the same thing, and there’s not much point in trying to be successful in one but not the other.
- Five ways to support your Black colleagues at work
- Lessons on building an inclusive culture from the writers’ room of HBO’s “Watchmen”
- How companies can pull up for Black employees during a race crisis
- The impact of workspaces for people of color go beyond feeling welcome
- How to make sure your company isn’t “fronting” Black employees
- Practical advice for managers who are serious about inclusion and diversity
The first step in diversifying the workforce and leadership ranks is making sure the opportunity is open to any candidate who is qualified for the job.
- How effective is artificial intelligence in removing racial bias in hiring?
- The startup Adam Grant is betting on to fix bias in hiring is out of stealth mode
- People who see God as white are more likely to see white job applicants as leaders
- Why diversity initiatives fail (See also: Some common diversity initiatives actually decrease diversity, data show)
Ideas and essays worth sharing
Personal experience is a powerful motivator. So, too, is information that reveals the injustices and hidden costs of things we blindly accept as norms.
- My name was “too Black” for corporate America, and that’s why I’m reclaiming it
- The history of Black management reveals an overlooked form of capitalism
- The number one reason white men give for not getting involved with diversity and inclusion
- What the corporate world can learn from South Africa’s post-apartheid struggles
- If everyone hates wokewashing, why do companies still do it?
- What most managers don’t know about leading diverse teams
- CEOs are finally talking about racism. Will anything change?
Bonus: Two workshops
Quartz members can access the replays and recaps of our Quartz at Work (from home) workshops, including two we did in 2020 on how to build antiracist companies.