More than a month has passed since George Floyd's death, and perhaps it's just me, but it seems like the energy behind supporting Black businesses and standing with Black people has waned a little. The company statements have been made and filed, the black squares have disappeared from Instagram, and the protests and those who support them seem to be out of the news cycle.
Particularly for those of us who continue to work in Corporate America, the environment can be especially difficult because after a few weeks of advocacy for change, it appears that everyone in the office has moved past "Black Lives Matter" and addressing inequality and discrimination in the workplace in favor of returning to "normal". Unfortunately, there is no returning to normal for us. So, what can we do to help keep the conversation going in a positive way to create the workplace transformation we desire to see?
Here are some ideas to help your organization keep that same energy:
Create conversations where they may not yet exist.
If you have staff or all-hands meetings, consider introducing diversity and inclusion topics into the agenda to facilitate open discussions. Many of our non-Black counterparts may be unaware of the privilege they possess in the workplace and the injustices that Black people face at work. They may not fully understand that racism is displayed not only overt action, but by covert behaviors and the microaggressions we experience. Pro Tip: Consider using interactive exercises to make concepts more concrete and relevant.
Leverage leadership connections.
Do you have a mentor, sponsor, or advocate who is also passionate about changing the racial landscape in your organization? How can you leverage their platform and/or influence to help engage other members of the leadership team? Share your perspective with your connections and get their feedback on methods to create impact and revise long-standing policies. When leaders show that this issue is not only important to them, but that they are willing to take the necessary steps to change, the employees throughout the company are much more likely to take it seriously.
Utilize employee resource groups (ERGs).
Typically these internal collectives are focused on diverse segments of the employee population that face discrimination, prejudice, or exclusion in some way, i.e. women, underrepresented minorities, and the LGBTQ community. Engaging these groups can be another avenue to penetrate the organization and bring additional attention to the issues facing Black employees. ERGs usually have executive or leadership sponsors/contacts who may be able to use their voices to keep these issues at the forefront to be addressed.
Advocate for a more diverse workforce.
Hear me out. Part of the reason why the response from many companies on Black Lives Matter was not as impactful or as long-lasting as we would have hoped is because the diversity of the employee population does not support the message. It's hard for people to believe you care about the equality of Black people and that you want to see them succeed when: 1) no one in a mid-level to senior-level management position is Black, 2) no one in the C-Suite is Black, and 3) none of the top-tier management roles have succession plans that include Black people. When you have no one to look up to in your company that looks like you, it truly feels like it's impossible for you to succeed.
Outside of leveraging connections and support groups you already have, this is an opportunity for you to bring this issue head-on to those making the hiring decisions. Whether it's a direct letter to your CEO and executive leadership team, a frank conversation with your human resources department on hiring practices, organizing 1:1 or intimate meetings with the VP or Director of your department and other Black employees, let your voice be heard clearly. A good friend of mine prepared a full PowerPoint presentation for his Vice President to share the rather sobering figures of the lack of Black employees in leadership in his department, which in turn sparked a deeper dive into hiring practices and job placement of Black employees once hired. While these conversations are uncomfortable, these can prove to be the catalyst required for change.
Believe me, I get it. Being Black in corporate workspaces, many times you feel undervalued and unseen, and even more so right now. But while racism is not our problem to fix, we can help drive the solutions. We cannot wait on others to do the work. We must be the change we want to see.
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Featured image by Shutterstock.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports