Nicole Evans

Anti-racism Training: Become an Agent of Change and Promote Equity

7-minute read
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A recent study revealed that just 91% of today's workforce has faced some form of workplace discrimination. This is a wake-up call. It’s time to build workplaces where everyone feels included, valued, and respected.

Many people and communities live at the intersection of these identities, for example, a queer, person of color or with a disability experiences multiple systemic inequities at once. By centering on race and using tools that can be applied across oppressions, we increase the ability of all of us to work for equity. Also, focusing on race exposes direct links to unequal power, a system of oppression and privilege, and institutional practices.

That's where anti-racism training comes in. It's a tool to fix that broken system of discrimination: rebuild it fairly, and pave the way for truly embracing equity so that everyone can thrive.

Individuals gain the strength to speak up for themselves and others. Organizations see a boost in morale and productivity when everyone feels valued. To get there, here are practical steps and resources to navigate anti-racism training:

Anti-Racism Explained

Anti-racism is an initiative people, communities, and individuals take to end racism. It helps us recognize how the problem got there, how it manifests today, and how it holds people back. Anti-racism efforts are about fighting for the freedom, equal rights, and humanity of everyone.

Pretending everyone is the same doesn't fix the unfairness. Anti-racism recognizes that racism exists and works to fight it. It's more about understanding privilege, history, and how past systems created uneven playing fields.

This isn't just about pointing fingers but lifelong learning and building. We practice how to interrupt discrimination and foster inclusivity. People also learn to speak up for themselves and those the system oppresses.

For a long time, conversations about race were confined to academic circles or activist groups. Businesses are waking up to the reality of systemic racism. They also realize its impact on their employees, customers, and communities.

Organizations and communities continue to realize that embracing anti-racism is quite simply the right thing to do. They understand the business side of it, too.

A 2021 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management measured employees' sense of belonging in the workplace. Among employees surveyed:

  • 25% reported not trusting their manager to treat them fairly.
  • 26% did not feel emotionally safe at work.
  • 27% said their workplace does not clearly provide opportunities for employees to openly discuss issues without fear of penalty, punishment, and retaliation.
  • 27% did not think their manager encouraged a culture of open and transparent communication.

The report also revealed that Black workers were more likely than white workers to say their workplace discourages discussion of racial justice issues (45% versus 30%).

Since anti-racism is a continuous journey, expect to unlearn and relearn.

Embracing Equity participants who complete our training are better able to identify, talk about, and take action against racism within three months of our programs. Specifically, below are some of our outcomes:

  • 89% are better equipped to identify micro/macro aggressions and race-related incidents.
  • 91% are better equipped to talk about how their social identities intersect with power.
  • 87% are better equipped to talk about their role in perpetuating or resisting systemic racism.
  • 96% are better equipped to take action in response to micro/macro aggressions and race-related incidents.
  • 96% report implementing their learnings within the first three months!


 ““In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”    

— Angela Davis


Understanding Racism in the Workplace

Racism, prejudice, unconscious bias, microaggressions, and systemic racism are complex terms thrown around often. But what do they mean in the context of the workplace? You'll want to know how they manifest and what harm they cause.

Racism is the prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed based solely on race. It's not just about individual acts of hate. Racism is a system of oppression that benefits some at the expense of others.

Prejudice is a preconceived opinion, often negative, about a group of people. The preconceived opinion may revolve around their race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. It often exists in stereotypes and generalizations that don't rely on facts.

Unconscious biases are hidden prejudices that we all hold. Microaggressions are subtle, harmful comments or actions that can demean a person based on their identity. Systemic racism is a system of policies, practices, and norms that create and maintain racial inequality.

These concepts can manifest in the workplace and create unfair and harmful situations. Recruiters may favor candidates from certain racial backgrounds for jobs or promotions. Employers may give lower ratings or feedback to employees of color than their counterparts.

Key Statistics to Note

Various workplace statistics clearly demonstrate that racism is not just an abstract concept, but rather a tangible force that significantly hinders productivity and stifles potential in the professional environment.

For instance, the U.S. Census Bureau has highlighted a wage gap where Black men earn approximately 71 cents for every dollar that White men earn. Further emphasizing this issue, the Equality Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that around 33% of all discrimination claims in the U.S. were related to race.

In terms of leadership representation, as of 2020, Black professionals held a mere 3.2% of senior leadership roles in the U.S., according to the Center for Talent Innovation. This underrepresentation is indicative of the barriers faced by minority groups in climbing the corporate ladder.

The bias also extends to the recruitment process, as a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that resumes with "White-sounding" names receive 50% more callbacks than those with stereotypical "Black-sounding" names.

Moreover, the experience of microaggressions in the workplace is a common issue for minority employees. A Harvard Business Review article pointed out that about 58% of employees from minority groups have reported experiencing these subtle forms of discrimination.

These statistics reveal cases of workplace discrimination and racism that are reported. Some cases often don't make it in studies or news, leaving victims with no avenues to air their grievances.

What Anti-Racism Training Can Do

A world built on fairness, where everyone gets a chance to thrive, regardless of skin color, isn't just a dream. We can bring it to life with anti-racism training. The training is what people need to dismantle the systems that hold them back actively.

Racism isn't bad words and mean stares. It's a web of policies, practices, and unspoken rules that favor some groups. Anti-racism training shows you how they work and how to challenge them.

It's not enough to see injustice; we need to fight it actively. The training equips you with the tools to speak up, push for change, and stand up for those who face discrimination. You'll learn how to be an ally, not a bystander.

Racism isn't just a modern problem. Over the years, it has woven itself into society, from past laws and policies to everyday interactions. With this information, you can recognize racism in the present and chart a better future.

Since racism isn't about individual acts, it often comes from larger systems that keep certain groups at a disadvantage. DEI training helps you learn about these "oppressive structures." It reveals how they operate and impact different communities.

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5 Core Principles of Effective Anti-Racism Training

Anti-racism training is not a one-size-fits-all solution but a bridge across a divide. On one side, individuals face the realities of racism. On the other, a world where everyone gets a fair shot, regardless of race.

Developed at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, we are built with a strong foundation in adult learning. This approach encompasses five core principles, which are discussed below.

1. Facilitation by Qualified and Diverse Trainers

You shouldn't trust your anti-racism journey to anyone. Turn to qualified and diverse trainers who understand the complexities of racism firsthand. They should come from different backgrounds and experiences.

Their differences should reflect the richness of the human tapestry. Such guides ensure the training is grounded in reality and relevant to everyone. You'll have reliable guides to help you navigate the training.

2. A Brave and Open Environment for Honest Dialogue and Self-Reflection

Honest dialogue and self-reflection help hold communities together. Effective training can create a safe and open space where everyone feels comfortable speaking their truth. People will share their experiences and listen to others without judgment.

This vulnerability allows us to understand each other. It opens doors to growth for individuals and the group as a whole. As a result, there will be fewer cases of workplace discrimination.

3. Evidence-Based Curriculum With Diverse Perspectives

Effective training relies on an evidence-based curriculum. It's not about opinions or personal anecdotes but about research. The training also relies on relevant data and proven strategies.

This ensures everyone works with the same set of facts. It also encourages diverse perspectives and experiences. Enriching the learning experience and challenging blind spots becomes easier.

4. Focus on Individual and Systemic Change

A good anti-racism training program focuses on both individual and systemic change. It helps you recognize your own biases and learn tools to counteract them. But it also equips you to identify and challenge discriminatory policies and practices.

Whether it's in your community or workplace, you get to change what you think. You can also inspire the world around you to do the same. The outcome is a society that cares about equality.

5. Practical Tools and Strategies for Implementation

Effective anti-racism training goes beyond theory. It provides practical tools and strategies that you can put into action immediately. You can use the knowledge to tackle microaggressions at work or foster inclusive conversations. The skills also help you advocate for policy changes to build a more equitable world.

Remember, anti-racism training is a continuous journey. These core principles ensure you're not just standing on the edge of the divide. They allow you to actively build bridges that connect, understand, and ultimately transform.

Different Types of Anti-Racism Training

Tackling racism requires different approaches that target different parts of the problem. Each is crucial for a complete victory. Here are the approaches that help address racism from its visible leaves to its hidden roots:

Awareness Training

Awareness training helps you see what's happening around you, not just the obvious stuff. You can recognize unconscious bias and avoid unfair judgments. The training also helps you communicate and connect with people from different backgrounds.

With awareness training, you gain a shared understanding of what racism is. You'll explore its different forms, from historical instances to present-day manifestations. The training is a base knowledge everyone needs to tackle the problem together.

Skills Training

Now that you're aware, it's time to take action. Skills training lets you learn practical skills to identify and interpret bias. You'll discover techniques to challenge discriminatory language and foster inclusive behavior.

This way, you get to build bridges across cultural divides. You'll know how to fight prejudice. The training also equips you to tackle bias head-on in real-world situations.

Systemic Change Training

True victory while tackling racism lies in addressing the root of the problem. This training helps you to tackle the deeper roots of racism. It covers the policies, practices, and structures within organizations that perpetuate inequality.

You'll learn to identify biased hiring practices, discriminatory policies, and unconscious biases. The goal is to work toward dismantling these systemic issues and encourage workplace diversity.

Note that these types of training aren't mutually exclusive. They work best in tandem. These approaches allow you to recognize the problem, deal with it, and tackle the source.

They apply to individuals seeking personal growth. Leaders who want to create a more inclusive workplace or agents of change who aim for larger societal reform can also benefit.

Upcoming free webinar that will showcase three systemic change journeys.                                

Register for the Free Webinar  

Actions for an Equitable Workplace at an Individual Level

With some actionable steps, you can help build a more equitable workplace. The first thing to do is attend anti-racism training. Ask questions, share your experiences, and listen to others.

Don't let discriminatory behavior or microaggressions go unnoticed. Instead, speak up respectfully when you witness bias. Whether it's a casual joke or an unfair policy, your voice can help create a safe and inclusive space.

You should point out biased language and racist policies. As you question unfair practices, suggest alternative approaches. Also, advocate for policies that promote equal opportunities for all.

Being a champion for inclusive practices means encouraging diverse perspectives. You should embrace cultural differences and celebrate people's strengths. Promote initiatives that break down barriers and foster a sense of belonging.

Remember to hold yourself and others accountable for upholding anti-racist values. Address your own biases and speak up when others falter.

Join our year-long Embracing Equity Leadership Residency, designed to support your organization and leaders in becoming champions of an anti-bias, anti-racist culture. We know this journey can be complex, and we're here to guide you every step of the way. Our national program offers powerful tools, expert mentorship, and a supportive community to help you build sustainable, affirming, and inclusive practices.

Applications are open now, so don't wait. Take the first step towards a more equitable future for your organization and its people. Apply today!

Beyond Training: Building a Culture of Equity

Building lasting inclusive cultures requires an organizational effort. One-time workshops and sustained methods that dismantle inequalities can help. You can use them to create a truly inclusive environment.

Organizations need robust anti-discrimination policies. These policies should outline unacceptable behaviors, grievance procedures, and consequences for violating them. They should guide everyone towards inclusive and respectful conduct.

Workforce diversity audits are crucial for your organizational culture. So, you should regularly review your workforce demographics, pay gaps, and promotion rates. Do this to uncover blind spots and identify areas for improvement.

You can factor in underrepresentation. This way, you can create role models, challenge biases, and ensure diverse perspectives are heard. You should also allocate resources for mentorship programs, unconscious bias training, and cultural competency workshops to promote inclusive growth.

Free Inquiry call  

Join the Anti-Racism Training Movement Today

Talking about racism is hard, but fighting it is harder. But with anti-racism training, you can equip yourself with the knowledge and courage to recognize and challenge racism. It allows you to speak up when others stay silent, interrupt unfair systems, and build a world where everyone gets a fair shot.

Tired of simply discussing racial justice? Embracing Equity offers the tools and support to take real action. Invest in yourself, your team, and your organization, and advance racial justice one transformative step at a time today.

Register Here to get started  

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