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Many organizations have been criticized for their support of Black Lives Matter and other diversity related organizational statements. We as HR professionals must work on knowledge of the “real” truth of the state of diversity in our organizations. We need to look for adverse impact and eliminate it. We need to take a proactive approach by reviewing all of our programs and processes.

What a few weeks it has been. As a seasoned HR professional, watching the world react to the protests and riots certainly has been a lesson for leadership training and corporate public relations.

One of the many things I’ve learned, through years in management, is that optics are important. How something looks and feels is as important and possibly more important than the actual message. If a group of white men stand as a group and announce diversity and inclusion initiatives, what message does this send? I’ll never forget a local bank advertisement in a business journal with the headline “Your Hometown Bank” with a picture of their executives and board that were all white and all male. What truth does this reveal?

I immediately wondered, “whose hometown?” You might think that I am hypersensitive – I am. As HR professionals, we need to diplomatically look for optics that send the wrong message and then we need to say something. It isn’t enough to notice. Where is HR when organizations are creating public relations nightmares with these photo opportunities or statements?

HR is in a unique position with overall organizational responsibility to speak up when no one else does.

Organizations spend millions of dollars on marketing, yet one statement can create a loss of customers and employees that erase earnings for the year. Once again, where is human resources? Think before you speak and speak the truth; however, always consider the consequences, the context, and the probable reaction. Let’s embrace our role in human resources and have the courage to step up

Thanks for listening,

Suzanne K. Lemen, SPHR, SCP
CEO Dynamic Corporate Solutions, Inc.