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6 ways employers ‘steal time’ from minority workers

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views expressed by entrepreneur Those who give are their own.

Have you heard the phrase “time theft”? Then you can link it to poor performance and work practices of employees in a company, such as employees who work overtime but only work for a short time. Or employees who extend their lunch break without telling their manager. The traditional definition of time theft is related to the modern “quit” movement in that bad behavior is targeted at employees who “steal” from companies.

But have you thought about the countless ways employers Stealing time from employees – especially those working on diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace? Are there ways employers and others can take time and energy from employees to work towards a more equitable and equitable workplace? In this article, we turn the idea of ​​time theft on its head and discuss six types of employees who, while spending time working on DEI issues, are often disenfranchised, overlooked and undervalued by companies.

1. Time theft occurs when employees are asked to participate in DEI councils and working groups without compensation.

I am a strong supporter of DEI councils and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). They are great places for like-minded people to get together and develop strategies for dealing with DEI issues in the workplace. However, when those councils and groups take hours off from employees on a weekly basis, the employees must be compensated for this.

DEI Boards and ERGs are not “extracurricular” activities that employees do outside their desks for fun. It is hard, business-oriented work that drives progress. This is the theft of time for employees to brainstorm, plan and perform work that benefits a company’s DEI plans while not being properly paid or recognized for it.

Participation in boards and groups without proper compensation is a theft of employees’ time that could otherwise be used for their personal needs or to invest in other professional development opportunities.

related: Stop expecting marginalized groups to lead diversity efforts. It’s time for allies to act

2. It is time theft when employees constantly work outside of working hours to enroll in DEI initiatives.

The amount of staff required to support DEI initiatives within an organization can be overwhelming. Related to being on DEI councils and ERGs, it takes time and energy to attend pre- and post-work events to get more people on board for DEI strategy or to get cross-departmental support. Time theft emerges when employees must constantly upsell, resell, innovate, and re-energize their peers and leadership on initiatives that are beneficial to the company.

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Employees who are passionate about DEI and have the fire to support their initiatives spend so much time on it that it eats up their bandwidth to accomplish other parts of their jobs. They need reliable support from other employees and leadership so that the burden does not fall on the shoulders of a few.

The time it takes to gain support for DEI initiatives should be recognized and compensated. It must be accepted by leadership as an act that supports the growth of the company. All employees, not just those personally affected by DEI, should strive to gain support for DEI projects.

related: 7 ways leaders can improve their DEI workplace strategy

3. It is theft of time when leadership becomes analytically paralyzed and keeps employees company without taking action.

After attending an unpaid DEI council, people are scrambling to join an initiative with clear business benefits, with some employees pinning their hopes on a lead-up to a grand master plan. Leadership can appreciate the initiative conceptually, but it can take time to figure out how to implement it. Leaders can put employees on the line and tell them they are working on it, but the result can be months of inactivity and analysis paralysis.

Companies should not rush to implement DEI plans without the financial and logistical components in place. However, many leaders lack data and slow progress as they seek more information before taking action. I believe in data, but sometimes waiting for the right amount of information, even after the DEI Council or ERG has provided enough information, can be a crutch that steals time from employees who have worked hard for an initiative and are waiting for action.

When executives hear the same message calling for action on racial, gender, sexual orientation or disability issues in the workplace, it’s time to steal action while others wait for results.

related: Blended working can impact your diversity, equality and inclusion goals. Here’s how to prepare for it.

4. It is a waste of time if employees with a marginalized identity are constantly asked to train colleagues.

Constantly tapping employees with marginalized identities to lead discussions or become spokespersons for entire groups is a theft of time and energy.

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As colleagues strive to be better allies, they must take personal action to be informed of the issues. Instead of working alone, they often rely on influencers to educate them. Being a teacher can be exhausting and triggering for some employees when dealing with their own workplace challenges. Using an employee’s time to answer questions that could be part of someone’s self-study is an unreasonable and problematic request.

Employees and colleagues who do not have marginalized identities should reduce the time it takes to educate themselves and ask those affected to assist in their learning. It is cumbersome, tiring and harmful to those who have to protect their peace and boundaries at work.

5. It is a waste of time when employers ask marginalized people to share their ‘lived experiences’, but then fool those individuals when it is time for action.

It can be incredibly frustrating for employees with marginalized identities to share their experiences and not be listened to or taken seriously. Leadership can ask certain groups to share their lived experiences in hopes of finding an opportunity to create a DEI initiative that supports them. While this is a good intention, it can seem dismissive and a waste of time for those individuals to speak out and discredit or make light of others’ experiences.

When employers request information from marginalized people, it should be serious and focused on solutions. When people share their experiences of trauma, discrimination and social inequality at work, it is important to believe their stories. When leadership asks for this information and then drags employees with marginalized identities into conference rooms to talk about it, it is disrespectful and time-consuming to discredit, doubt or deny their experiences.

related: Here’s how to make the most powerful DEI call

6. It is theft of time when leadership encourages marginalized people to work hard for advancement opportunities and then ignores them for promotion.

Many marginalized groups are familiar with the phrase, “You have to work twice as hard to get half of what others have.” This can absolutely be true in the workplace. Many marginalized people who are on a PhD track may be told by their managers, “If you work harder” or “If you take on this project,” you may be in a better position for promotion. Perhaps the employee jumps through all the hurdles and gets their job done with flying colors, but when it comes time for a promotion, they are overlooked, while someone “from the inside” nods leadership.

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While DEI practitioners strive for a level playing field, we know that promotion and promotion are still bottled up by those who are tight-lipped about leadership or represent the stereotypical recipient of promotion.

Too often, people who belong to underrepresented groups are not considered for opportunities despite their hard work, above average performance or consistency. It is time theft for employees with marginalized identities to put more time and energy into their work only to be left without recognition or reward. Women and people of color often voluntarily work harder, but are often the last to be promoted.

final thoughts

Time theft is a real problem for marginalized people and those passionate about DEI’s work. Creating a more inclusive, diverse and equitable workplace can be viewed as a “voluntary” or “extracurricular” activity that does not require compensation. However, organizations need to redefine this function as mission-critical and essential for growth and longevity.

Everyone should be involved in advocating DEI and promoting its presence in the workplace. It should not rest on the shoulders of a few employees who carry a marginalized identity. If DEI were more integral to an organization’s work, there would be more of a push for self-education, fair compensation, and equal opportunity for advancement.

Time is stolen when groups, who are marginalized, overlooked and undervalued, bear the burden of training, buying, leading and still having to bear workplace inequality. It is not fair for them to bear the burden alone without financial compensation or action from leadership. It is time to invest in DEI, to make it an integral part of the company values ​​and to respect and give back the time and energy that employees spend on executing their plans and taking action.

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