“Woke” remains a common phrase used to point out discriminatory behavior by people and institutions and to encourage people to be mindful and aware of the lowkey discriminatory behavior.
As I’ve discussed previously in the posts …
… once you are Woke, there is rarely a day that goes by when you won’t notice discriminatory behaviors at work thru our systems of supremacy and privilege.
It is admittedly difficult not to allow that to impact how you operate. All around you, you’re seeing people who are mistreated, overlooked and left out for factors outside of their control. All around you, you’re seeing problematic systems of selection and promotion that are setup to maintain status quo, not diversity or inclusion. All around you, every day. Within the organization you serve and in the general world. All around you. Every single day.
Sometimes, you’re a victim of these systems yourself. You’re a Black person. Or a Woman. Or a Person of Color. Or a Person with a Physical Disability. Or a Person with outspoken Religious Beliefs. Or a Person who is not Heterosexual or who does not identify as the Gender of their birth … You work to advance organizations built on systems designed to limit your own success.
Let that sink in.
“Working while Woke” means operating for 8+ hours every day for at least 5 days of your week within organizations built on systems either actively or subliminally designed to prevent you from achieving at your highest level.
If you are part of a majority group within the power structures of such systems, can you imagine for a moment how difficult that is? Imagine how you would feel spending 40+ hours per week for 40+ weeks per year for 40+ years in that kind of system while at work. If you’re fortunate enough to work in an environment where this somehow isn’t the case, imagine spending every hour of every day of every week of every year for your whole life in that system when you’re not working.
Tired. Frustrated. Disappointed. Angry. Hopeless. Invisible … Those are the words that come to my mind as I cross the halfway threshold of my own career and look ahead to the next half in these systems.
It is hard to accept this as the only available reality for me. It is hard to accept this will be the only available reality for my children, who will be entering the world of work themselves in a few short years and are at ages/stages in their development where they start to see the systems.
How do I fix this? What is the cure for Working while Woke?
“Woke Work” are the active efforts put forth to dismantle systems of supremacy and privilege. Woke Work is activism on behalf of yourself and communities of disenfranchised people.
If you’re in HR, like me, Woke Work starts by advocating within the organization you serve for inclusion in your hiring and promotion practices along with your policies as well as fair wages and equal pay for equal work and comprehensive benefits and appropriate paid time off for people to rest, recuperate and achieve balance in their work and home lives. Woke Work is the work of our profession when you’re doing HR right.
If you cannot do this work in the place where you are, you have some difficult choices and major moves to make. What is not a choice is staying put, doing nothing and continuing to let the reputation of our great profession suffer. This is not an option. People depend on us to ensure workplaces are fair and good. HR must step up.
Beyond your chosen profession, whatever it is, this means speaking out and taking action. Share the stories. Do the research. Support the causes. Show up then show out. Raise your voice against the systems of division and oppression. Give your time and money to the causes and the people who are lacking resources and opportunity. Create space for people who are so often cast aside with the power of your privilege.
Working while Woke is hard, heavy and hurtful.
Woke Work is freeing, filling and fruitful.
Our world needs both. Our world needs you to do both.