Dr. Nicole Evans

Learn About Anti-Racist Leadership | Embracing Equity

5-minute read
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In today’s time, as we look around us, we see the challenges of our current moment. We also see the challenges of the recent racial awakening for white America. Our focus now is to see the opportunities that the global pandemic and a racial awakening have presented and to realize our way forward.

The global pandemic has given us the opportunity to know that it is possible to interrupt our complacency around ways of working and cleared the way for changes that we needed to make to survive. The racial awakening has given us an opportunity to understand that we can transform our organizations to ones that are anti-racist, so that all people can thrive.

And if we are to take this journey of transformation, we must start with understanding that anti-racist leadership matters.

We are at a pivotal point in our journey. We know that we cannot go back to a system that we know is broken. Right now we have an opportunity that compels us, challenges us and holds us accountable.

If we are truly going to transform and wake up and reckon with what being an anti-racist organization means, we need to start with leadership.

Oftentimes leadership is designated by a title or positional authority, but true anti-racist leadership requires leaders to center equity in their leadership and their organizations through actions. Anti-racist leadership is understanding your how your racial and social identities intersect with power and privilege. It is about being intentional in crafting your organizational culture and environment, and supporting people through equitable organizational structures.

Embracing Anti-Racist Leadership for a Brighter Future

Embracing anti-racist leadership requires introspection, humility, and a commitment to systemic change.

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Here are some ways we can all move towards more ethical, compassionate leadership:
  • Examine your biases
  • Amplify marginalized voices
  • Implement equitable policies
  • Educate your staff
  • Build accountability
  • Form authentic partnerships
  • Advocate for racial justice
Examine Your Own Biases

We all have unconscious biases that influence our perceptions and decisions. Be willing to ask yourself tough questions and listen to critiques without getting defensive. Educate yourself on the social construction of race and how racism operates in our institutions and in our internalized beliefs.

Amplify Marginalized Voices

Make sure people of color are represented in leadership roles in your organization. When we share our experiences of racism, believe us. Give us greater decision-making power and a platform to share our ideas.

Equitable Policies and Anti-Racist Practices

Audit your policies and practices through an anti-racist lens. Identify barriers to advancement for people of color and actively dismantle them. Ensure salaries, promotions, and opportunities are equitable across racial groups.

Train Your Staff

Provide regular anti-racism training for all employees to build cultural competency and skills for promoting racial justice. Bring in experts from marginalized groups to lead programs. Make training mandatory, not optional.

Build Accountability

Develop precise mechanisms to hold leadership accountable for measurable progress on anti-racist initiatives. Report regularly on relevant metrics and listen to external assessments. Where there are gaps, demonstrate openness to critique.

Partner With Communities of Color

Form authentic partnerships with organizations led by people of color. Collaborate on solving problems that impact their communities rather than dictating solutions. Truly listen, and let their priorities guide you.

Speak Up Beyond Your Organization

Use your influence to advocate for racial justice publicly. Call on peers and others in positions of power to act as well. Leverage your voice to influence systemic change.

Leadership for a Better World

The path towards anti-racism asks all of us to have the courage to change. But this journey leads to a more just and compassionate world that benefits everyone. As leaders, we set the tone for others. Let us lead with empathy, wisdom, and resolve.

Contact us today to learn more about our anti-racist workshops.

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Anti-racist leadership matters because we need leaders who understand the big picture: being an anti-racist organization is not a trend or a badge or a one-time workshop. It is a practice.

Anti-racist leadership matters because it is the only way we will get to systemic change.  It moves organizations and leaders beyond just momentary allyship and performative, temporary measures to deeper actions, commitment, and accountability. It is our collective opportunity to make racial equity a priority for survival, just as survival has been a priority under COVID. We need anti-racist leaders who no longer will sweep under the rug, the experience of those who have been crushed under the weight of racism and who will wake those who have been asleep under the lull of apathy. We need leaders who will take on the role of leading, guiding, growing, living and practicing anti-racism day-in and day-out even when the going gets tough.

How do we move from aspiration to action?
How do we center anti-racism in our leadership?
How do we transform our organizations to to become anti-racist?

Anti-racism leadership requires deep reflection, establishing an anti-racist mindset, modeling anti-racist practices, and embedding anti-racism structures throughout the organization.

Anti-racist leaders think about disrupting racism through individual learning, interpersonal actions, and institutional transformation.

Begin by asking yourself these questions:

How do your racial and social identities inform your leadership?
  • Which of your identities have helped you thrive as an educational leader? How so?
  • Which of your identities have hindered you? How so?
What is the culture of your organization?
  • What are your shared beliefs and values? How do you, as a team, understand your commitment to racial justice?
  • How is the organization’s anti-racism commitment communicated both internally and externally?
How do your structures and systems support your anti-racism commitment?
  • How are equity, inclusion, and racial justice being intentionally centered in your organization’s systems, structures, and decision-making?
  • Who is thriving within the organization? Who is not?

Embracing Equity answers these exact questions through our year long Leadership Residency.

We support you to move past being anti-racist on the surface to deeper and intentional action. We walk with you to unearth the root causes for systemic racism and  embed anti-racism in your organizations. And we do this all with an asset-based approach.

Instead of thinking what is wrong, how do we fix it, try thinking what is possible and how do we create it?
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Anti-racist leadership matters and it is possible!  
Join us on a 12 month journey to transformation.

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About the Author

Dr. Nicole Evans (she/her) is Embracing Equity’s Senior Director of Leadership & Coaching. She partners with educational leaders in the yearlong Leadership Residency program, which supports deep individual, interpersonal, and institutional change.

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