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Discussion on: Ways to Use Up Your Professional Development Budget

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Megan Sullivan Author • Edited

I'm disappointed that learning how to prioritize the safety of Black colleagues doesn't fall under your definition of "being professional." In my experience, I've never had any trouble expensing such materials, and I hope you reconsider.

Yes, treating everyone with basic respect is necessary for being professional. But that lowest-of-bars isn't being met everywhere, and that's the problem. Many non-Black people don't even realize that some daily micro-interactions that seem normal to them are actually harmful to the Black person on the other end. I would expect that learning how to treat colleagues with respect should fall within the purview of professional development.

And racism in the workplace extends beyond just person-to-person interactions. It's also about the systems in place that historically discriminate against Black people:

It's about discrimination in hiring practices ("Black-sounding" names not getting callbacks, even with qualifications identical to white candidates). It's about discrimination in performance reviews and promotions (Black employees needing to work harder than white colleagues to get the same recognition). It's about discrimination in wages (Black employees being paid less than white employees for doing the same kind of work).

If white people - who benefit from racist systems by design - don't learn about those systems and how to use their privilege and power to dismantle them, nothing will ever change. $30 for a book or an online course seems a more than fair price to pay to start making amends for hundreds of years of oppression.

If you (or anyone following along) are looking for a (free) way to learn, the Seeing White podcast series by Scene On Radio is an eye-opening place to start:

190245 profile image
Dave • Edited

I'm disappointed that learning how to prioritize the safety of Black colleagues doesn't fall under your definition of "being professional."

If you re-read what I posted, maybe you'll realise that I prioritise the safety of all my colleagues equally, regardles of personal qualities such as skin colour, gender, mental health, etc etc.

The point I was making, is that without basic respect for the safety (both physical and mental) & well-being of all - and not just colleagues, but visitors and random members of the public, we have no hope of being professional.

As a result, any sensitivity type training, comes out of my HR budget, not my Professional Development budget.

And since I'm a manager, I promise you, I am aware of biases on multiple levels, including my own, and have the power to change policies/procedures such as how we do performance reviews / salary banding / hiring etc etc.

I'm also well versed in statistics, have access to an enormous amount of data about my employees work, and actually review things at the end of every Sprint. People get reduced to ID values, and any inefficiencies in the team, I apply training to all the team equally.

You might also note that I'm not the one talking in binary terms. I truly believe that we're all equal, not only in terms of the protection needed, but in the responsibility we all hold (and must be held accountable for).

Your opinion, seemingly, is that "white people need to be pulled down a peg or three" - I'm simply advocating that we all be pulled UP to the same average level (and yes, that means that in some cases, white people need to lose some ground in order to come to a sensible average... but that doesn't apply to all white people, much the same as there are some privileged people of colour).