- June 19, or Juneteenth, commemorates the effective end of slavery in America.
- Google executive Meloni Parker shares what the day means to her, and why it’s been tough this year.
- She said black Americans still lack security in America, and that leaders need to do more.
On Sunday, Google’s head of diversity and inclusion, Meloni Parker, will do something she normally doesn’t: pause. For Juneteenth—the day that marks the effective end of slavery in America in 1865—she would be reading the Bible, meditating on the works of black writers, and contemplating the notion of emancipation.
It is all part of his Juneteenth ritual. But this year, in particular, Parker is finding it difficult to wrestle with the idea of freedom—free from injustice—given the recent acts of violence in America.
Last month’s shootings in Buffalo, New York, where a gunman killed 10 black Americans in a grocery store, mass shootings at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, which killed 21 and injured more than a dozen, and Another fatal shooting occurred in June. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Parker is weighing in.
“As Americans, we are deeply connected by these incredibly tragic and horrific events in Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa – some of which directly impacted the Google community,” she said. “In a sense, we are all wounded, affected and traumatized by these mass shootings.”
While Parker said there has been a lot of progress since the May 2020 killing of George Floyd promoting a movement for racial justice, the country needs to do more to protect its people, especially black Americans. the wanted.
Violence by white supremacist groups is on the rise in America. The Department of Homeland Security has said that white supremacist extremists “remain the most persistent and deadliest threat” to the nation. And 2021 was the deadliest year on record for transgender people, with black trans people particularly at risk. For Parker, there can be no salvation without protection.
“One of the core principles that we value within our right to freedom is security,” she told Insider. “Black Americans are grounded in experiences where their freedoms are threatened by a lack of protection.”
create a safe space
Parker said in a previous interview with Insider that in addition to not tolerating hate or prejudice, business leaders need to do more to provide their employees with places to be present, grieve, and express their views. Is.
Parker said managers can organize sessions in solidarity with communities affected by violence and that officials should provide mental health support to employees. Colleagues also have a role to play; He said that people of one community need to come before other communities.
“Working for diversity, equality and inclusion has never been more important,” he said, adding that creating a sense of community for Google employees during difficult times has involved a lot of conversation. “We talk about it. We hold sessions in solidarity where we partner with an outside group. And we bring in mentors,” Parker said. “And we hold sessions for the affected community.”
The suggestions shared by Parker center around a popular theme in modern diversity, equality and inclusiveness literature: psychological safety. It is a term used by mental-health experts to describe a place where people feel they can be authentic, supported, and validated.
It’s an idea some officials are embracing. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has called it company value. Marcus Lofhouse, chief product officer of dating service OKCupid, said creating psychological security is key to the company’s innovation. And Rosanna Duruthi, LinkedIn’s head of diversity and inclusion, praised the importance of psychological safety in a previous interview with Insider.
“Great companies are going to have clear anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies in place. They are going to create safe spaces for their employees and they are going to enable brave conversations because these are not one-sided conversations,” Duruthi said.
“Ultimately, they’re going to be committed to inclusive recruiting practices and goals, which means they’re willing to stand up and say, ‘I see you, and I want you in my environment, and I want you’. That you bring your point of view. That’s what we are working on,” Durruthy said.
Parker is leading Google’s DEI strategy to increase the number of black employees and leaders at the company.
Parker said, “As we move forward, by bringing people together, respectfully, we can continue to develop our collective definition of liberty – based on the need for civil and social justice and equality for all.” ”