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How to Practice Organizational Integrity, Part 2: Provide Support When People are Hurt

Many HIV-focused organizations are struggling with diversity in leadership, where the leadership is primarily white, or male, or straight, or otherwise homogeneous. It’s time to change the culture of our organizations, and embrace a culture that fully supports those most affected by the epidemic to thrive and do brilliant work. In this three-part Organizational Integrity blog series, Kaytee Ray-Riek explore steps organizations can take to become more inclusive, and ultimately more effective.

This is part 2 of a 3-part series. Read Part 1: Be Explicit About Culture.


Once you’ve defined your culture, it’s critical to live it out fully. No doubt you’ve encapsulated some kind of value about equity or inclusion. So what do you do when someone inevitably does something racist, or sexist, transphobic, or otherwise at work? (Quick aside: This is already happening at your workplace. You just might not notice it. We live in a world full of the smog of -isms, and we all breathe it in. Of course it’s showing up at work. Now it’s your job to deal with it, instead of pretending it’s not happening.)

Many of us are wired to avoid conflict, so often when this sort of thing happens, we try to ignore it or pretend it didn’t happen. But this is detrimental for anyone who was hurt, who feel unseen and unwelcome; the staff person that said something hurtful, who loses out on a chance to learn; and the organization, that doesn’t get a chance to think about how to prevent future issues.

There’s a clear process to follow when this happens that helps everyone move forward, and it essentially boils down to:
  1. Notice something happened, and decide to intervene.
  2. Talk to the person who was hurt, to let them know you’ll be talking to the person who hurt them and ask if there’s anything you should know before you talk to the other person.
  3. Talk to the person who said something hurtful, and help them understand that that isn’t acceptable, and offer resources and training so they can understand further.
  4. Reflect on what the organization could have done to prevent the hurt in the first place. Is there basic cultural sensitivity training you could be doing but aren’t, etc.
  5. Repeat!
Following this process will support all of your staff to move forward from a difficult situation, whether it’s by learning about what went wrong so they can make changes in the future, or by being seen and heard when things go off course.

Continue Reading
Part 3: Notice Implicit Bias, Especially in Hiring

AIDS United provides free technical assistance to organizations through our Sector Transformation program and CDC-funded Getting to Zero Capacity Building Program. Learn more here.

Kaytee Ray-Riek is an organizational culture expert who provides training and technical assistance to organizations to build an organizational culture rooted in equity. Reach out to her here.


Posted By: Guest Blogger: Kaytee Ray-Riek, Organizational Culture Expert - Friday, September 22, 2017



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