2020 Racial Tension Responses

Challenge

After the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, staff expressed a need to discuss race relations in the US and the impact to them personally and professionally. We knew that we had staff that were in pain. We also knew that it would not be an easy topic to tackle in the workplace. With an understanding that the outcomes of these conversations were uncertain, leadership ultimately agreed that it was worth taking the risk and decided to move forward with multiple conversations

Actions

Part 1 of the actions taken started with scheduling a virtual all staff presentation/discussion in early June by the Ivy Planning Group, entitled “Exploring Anger, Frustrations, and Hopelessness: From COVID-19 – George Floyd.” Two sessions were scheduled. One was for internal staff and one was for members. Part 2 of the actions involved having a separate open and honest conversation, or a “safe space” for meaningful conversation without any external participation.

Outcomes

The outcomes we received have been very positive. Staff seemed to appreciate the Ivy Planning Group presentation, as they were exposed to coping skills that could be applied immediately. The safe space conversation, lead by our CEO, was well received too. Several staff, most of which were black, took this opportunity to really be honest with their coworkers about how they were feeling. It was a very emotional meeting.

Quote

We are in midst of global pandemic defined by biological disease and racial injustice. The importance of attacking racial injustice and the legacy of disparity it creates must be addressed by organizations, the individuals they are comprised of, and the stakeholders and members they represent and support. As demonstrated through multiple actions, ASAE will not stand still, nor silent. We are honored to become a member of the CEO Action group to assist in marshaling resources for change.

Susan Robertson
CEO, American Society of Association Executives
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