This year has been an opportunity to rethink our workplaces and the ways we work. It has also been a time of serious reflection. A time to take a critical look at how we address racism and sexism within our teams. 

You’ve probably heard the saying “diversity is being invited to the dance, inclusion is being asked to dance.” But what happens when the dance is over? 

“That’s always the problem,” said Ren Navarro, founder of Beer. Diversity. “Take Blackout Tuesday. People jumped on to it. They posted a black square and said they were listening. But what did they listen to? They just posted with no comment and waited for accolades to come in. You’re not highlighting a person or organization.”

Navarro is a well-known veteran of the craft beer industry in Ontario. She started her company to help restaurants and bars with staff training on tastings, line cleaning, beer selection and working with sales reps. Beyond those core topics, Navarro works with breweries, wineries, distilleries and bars to create diversity and inclusion policies. 

While Navarro noted the effort many businesses put into posting about Black Lives Matter and anti-racism, she doesn’t feel like people are learning from it. “So many places posted something about anti-Black racism and the next post would be ‘here’s our special!’,” said Navarro. “It’s great that they have something up about Black Lives Matter, but they have no staff that are Black.”

As a Black business owner, Navarro found herself being inundated with emails and calls as the conversations around anti-Black racism took over social media. “They’d open with ‘it’s so terrible’, ask how I’m holding up – and then ask for something they could easily search for themselves,” Navarro said. 

One call from a brewery stuck out for her. The brewery was looking for an idea for a Black charity they could highlight. “I said ‘you’re the 200th person to reach out looking for info.’ I didn’t have the emotional strength for this. I told him to Google it.” Navarro hasn’t heard from the brewery rep since. “I don’t even know what charity he found. Nothing. He just needed info and didn’t want to go look for it.”

A large number of business owners also asked Navarro to come talk to their staff – but for free. “‘Come talk to our group for free.’ No. This is a business. I want money for my time. Thanks for your interest. Best of luck,” she added.

Navarro’s customers are mainly breweries and other beverage companies, but the lessons can be applied to any industry. Including tech. When it comes to building diversity and inclusion into your hiring practice, Navarro said it starts before someone looks at your careers page.

“It doesn’t start with who you want to hire. Take bars and breweries. It starts with the person walking down the street. They talk to people about why they work in the place they do. Or they drink a particular beer. They’ve hung out in that bar. They’ve learned about the place before they think about wanting to work there.”

The parallels are there in tech. Many future prospects for your company learn about your workplace either as an interaction as a consumer or from a friend. “It’s so rare that someone applies to a job and hopes it doesn’t suck,” she said.

Navarro encourages companies to figure out their definition of diversity. “You say you need more people of colour. You need to have an explanation of why you want this group of people. There’s multiple steps to get to where they want to start, but all too often they just want to be at the end.”

Social media helps with showcasing what your workplace is like. “We’re all paying attention to things we scroll past. When you can’t attract people into your space because of COVID-19, you can attract them into your space on social media.”

Navarro recommended highlighting staff on your channels as a great way to give insight to who your employees are. It’s a great tactic as long as it’s part of your content plan and not just to show off someone because they’re a BIPOC. “Don’t just say ‘it’s Tuesday and here’s our one Black guy, Roy,’ ” she said.

When it comes to educating our employees about anti-Black racism, Navarro said we need to be smarter about it. “We’re teaching this to our children well. Why aren’t we doing that in our industries?”

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Hey, it’s July and I see and hear that....THEMUSEUM is reopening to the public on July 15. Physical distancing and limited capacity will be in place for your protection. Summer Lights Festival has Thursday Nite Music with Natasha Allain on Thursday, July 16 at 8:05 p.m. Good Co. Productions has their Concert in a Box Vol. II on Sunday, July 26 at 7 p.m.