“Listen In” to Allison Manswell as she talks with Vanessa Kelly about her impactful book on race relations: “Listen In: Crucial Conversations on Race in the Workplace,” its relevance today, and why now is the right time to make real changes to bring lasting racial equity.
Allison Manswell was born and raised in Montreal, Canada and began her career in criminal justice with the Royal Canadian Mounties. Moving to the United States for marriage, she found herself in a new field, HR. Listen in as she discusses her growth in HR and how she views her journey from policing to influencing behavior proactively by crafting effective organizational interventions. Allison wrote “Listen In: Crucial Conversations on Race in the Workplace” as an organic response to the death of Freddie Gray, a 25 year old man who died from spinal cord injuries while in police custody and the ensuing Baltimore riots that she lived through. While racial inequity and the issue of police brutality were not new concepts in the black community, Allison felt a calling to write about the black experience at work. Knowing that she had to be 100% authentic, she found a way to describe what many people of color experience in the workplace that did not involve shaming, but was designed to instill empathy and understanding. Forward to present day, with racial tensions flowing from the George Floyd killing and the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on BIPOC workers and women, the interest in racial equity has never been greater. Allison fears that if we do not make real sustained improvement in racial equity now, it will be difficult to ever “sell the notion of hope” for change again. Recognizing that racial equity in our workplaces is a systemic change, she encourages leaders to embrace the concepts of change management, including providing historical perspectives and preparing those with privilege and power for the changes that will come. Allison also advocates for making leadership accountable and making sure that today’s leaders have the tools, resources, empathy, and emotional intelligence to lead our diverse workforces. “Leadership is its own discipline” and should be a “powerful factor for progress.”
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