On January 20, 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to an audience of over 4,000 Villanova students, faculty, and local community members. He addressed the crowded field house on the ongoing struggle toward desegregation and the Civil Rights Act, which had passed only six months prior. Today, let us reflect on the words of Dr. King, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Photo Credit to the Villanova University Archives
Right now, as we are having a conversation on race and social justice after the death of George Floyd, we are in a critical time in our country and a pivotal moment for HR leaders to take action to support our black and brown employees. This week, Harvard Business Review shared an article titled "U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism" that discusses the importance of acknowledging the pain, affirming our support, and taking action to support our minority employees. This is from that article:
The psychological impact of these public events — and the way it carries over into the workplace — cannot be overstated. Research shows that how organizations respond to large-scale, diversity-related events that receive significant media attention can either help employees feel psychologically safe or contribute to racial identity threat and mistrust of institutions of authority. Without adequate support, minority employees are likely to perceive their environments as more interpersonally and institutionally biased against them. Leaders seeking to create an inclusive environment for everyone must find ways to address these topics.
Yesterday, Villanova HRD, along with a host of other Villanova social media accounts (VillanovaNursing, VillanovaBusiness, VillanovaLibrary, NovaEngineer, VUCareerCenter, NovaAthletics, VillanovaLSS, and others), as well as many individuals and companies all over the world participated in #BlackoutTuesday. We know that posting a black square does not equal action. But we want to acknowledge the pain that our black and brown students and colleagues have endured and affirm our support for them. Black lives matter!
We also vow to act. We are taking time to think critically about how we can use our platform to effect change and better support our black and brown students and colleagues. We are reading, listening, and learning. We promise not to have this be a one time show of support but to take meaningful steps towards effecting change for a more inclusive future.
Just recently, Villanova HRD Professor, Dr. Christian Thoroughgood, published a paper titled "Because you’re worth the risks: Acts of oppositional courage as symbolic messages of relational value to transgender employees." While this paper focuses specifically on our transgender community, there are implications from the research on the importance of oppositional courage for any stigmatized groups. Here is the opening sentence from this paper:
Social change often requires courageous behavior. Although courage is naturally associated with minority members who strike out against injustice toward their identity group, it is also a vital, yet often overlooked, part of speaking out in support of stigmatized groups.
Villanova HRD is speaking out in support of our black and brown brothers and sisters.
We stand with you. Black lives matter.