DEI’s Role To Support Employees Following Violence

Guest Blog by Kari Heistad

D&I’s Role To Support Employees Following Violence

Over the past several months, episodes of violence and the media storm that followed has left many employees in our diverse workforce coming to work feeling scared, stressed and fearful.  

Recently, I have had numerous conversations with fellow Diversity, Equity & Inclusion professionals who are all asking, ‘what should I be doing to help my senior leaders, managers and individual contributors at this time?’ As you explore how (or if) you will respond as an organization, here are some ideas and action steps to keep in mind:

Senior Leaders

  • Explore with senior leaders how the shootings and the media attention may be impacting teamwork, employee engagement, effectiveness and feelings of personal safety
  • Provide leaders with talking points so that if asked, all leaders are responding in the same way such as:
    • Being able to share what resources the organization has to help employees
    • How you are seeking to create an inclusive workplace that is respectful of everyone
    • What is the link to any training programs on bias or respect that you have done or are going to do
  • Help senior leaders to map out if the organization will be making any statements or providing any additional resources for employees
  • Keep in mind any current organization issues such as re-organizations, layoffs or moves that may be contributing to additional employee uneasiness


  • Encourage managers to keep their doors open in case employees need a safe place to talk
  • Share with managers the resources such as EAP that are available for employees and when to involve human resources
  • Help them to realize that their teams might be more stressed at this time and to role model trust, respect and understanding

Individual Contributors

  • Acknowledging that for some people it has been a challenging time with so many examples of violence and this may result in co-workers being more stressed at work
  • Don’t negate a colleague’s feelings as being “no big deal”
  • Be respectful of other people experiences and viewpoints
  • If someone is feeling stressed, offer to help out with team projects

For yourselves as DEI Professionals

  • Be thought partners with people at all levels of your organization as you explore how current events may be impacting your diverse workforce
  • Be thoughtful about reactionary actions that may set precedent for the need for action in the future such as  making a big show of support for one event, but not for other events that happen later
  • Be careful about blurring the line between social issues and the workplace
  • Be aware that any DEI training programs may have news events brought into discussions and plan how to respond if they are
  • Depending upon where your organization is on the DEI adoption (maturity) curve, only start conversations that your organization is prepared to explore
  • Reach out to other professionals to share, support and explore best practices

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