Know the difference between racism and prejudice.

In the summer of 2011, Eric Deggans, now NPR’s first full-time TV critic wrote an interesting piece in the St. Petersburg Times clarifying the difference between prejudice and racism.

I’ve often found Deggan’s view on prejudice and race simple and thought-provoking. According to him, prejudice is something that you observe in the moment. “You are walking home and cross the street to avoid an individual because you fear a mugging. Racism is internalizing as a core value the idea that some races are superior or subordinate to others,” he says.

We often use the word racism incorrectly when we prejudge someone because of their race or color. Someone might prejudge another individual but she/he may not believe that any race is superior to one another and cannot be called a racist.

“Many times when talk turns to a suspicion of prejudice, the word racism is used, incorrectly and unfairly,” Deggans says. We have our own prejudices and a single mistake doesn’t equal racism. However, a long history of prejudice will definitely make us a racist.

Prejudice is everywhere. The only way we can sort this out is by being vulnerable and engaging in honest conversations with one another.

The importance of employee resource groups (ERGs)

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) help achieve Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) goals of companies. They are bottom-up, employee-led, voluntary groups of like-minded individuals with a shared purpose. ERGs may include people with similar demographic structures or represent individuals with similar sexual orientation or other commonalities unique to a group.

ERGs are safe spaces for employees to voice their opinions, share ideas and get a seat at the table in leadership decisions. The goals of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) include:

  1. Improve common aspirations like better working conditions, better promotion opportunities, etc. for particular groups within the company.
  2. Provide a safe space for employees to voice their opinions freely without fear of retribution.
  3. Create a common forum to work together on specific, important issues and build a better work culture based on the business goals of the company.
  4. Build allyship with other groups, especially marginalized groups within the company.
  5. Represent marginalized groups and be a voice of reason for their aspirations within the company.