Building Psychological Safety

Through the Looking Glass

Psychological safety is the bedrock of inclusion and is a critical component of high performing teams. Too often, organizations are quick to embrace diversity, inclusion, and anti-discrimination policies to ensure compliance with legislation without such policies having a material impact on the affected groups. For example, recognition of annual days that commemorate and honor marginalized groups may do little to change racial bias in an enabling and discriminatory work environment.
Addressing racial bias in the workplace requires going beyond ticking boxes to building much-needed psychological safety and an environment where marginalized groups can thrive. Psychological safety for marginalized groups involves empowerment to voice one’s opinions without fear of negative consequences, judgment, and ridicule. An absence of this often breeds a hostile work environment that greatly impacts employee engagement.

The questions below, culled from Shereen Daniels’ book “The Anti-Racist Organization”, serves as a quick guide for an organization to reflect on how well they are doing to build psychological safety in the workplace.

  • Do you pay lip service to
    expressed concerns of racial
  • Does your work culture reward
    people who tow the line?
  • Do you interpret speaking up
    against racial
    discrimination as being difficult?
  • What labels do you give
    individuals who speak up?
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