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  • Writer's pictureAlli Myatt

Changing How Power Moves In Your Organization


To have a truly liberatory workplace, you must change how power moves in your organization. And at most organizations, managers have a hell of a lot of power.


I was recently looking through my files and found the promotion conversation notes from when I was a COO at a small nonprofit. Managers’ notes about the promotion candidacy of people they managed reminded me why I focused on disrupting manager power when I led our DEI strategy. Managers had *a lot* of say about almost everything an employee experienced. They decided starting salaries, they picked work assignments, they decided who was worthy of a promotion, and who needed a performance improvement plan. I noticed that when managers had all the power, our staff of color tended to lose out. Because of bias and the structures that empowered biased decision makers, we were seeing inequitable outcomes for people of color and women in hiring, pay, promotion, and retention. This situation is not limited to this one nonprofit. I’ve seen it at MANY organizations in my role as a racial equity consultant, and it is backed up by research on inequity at work (For example, this one: https://positivehire.co/black-women-need-to-be-twice-as-good-in-workplace/ and this one: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/report-black-women-less-likely-to-be-promoted-supported-by-their-managers and this one: https://gap.hks.harvard.edu/failure-not-option-black-women-effects-organizational-performance-leaders-single-versus-dual)


To change inequitable outcomes, you have to disrupt the pattern of bias by changing the process. For our approach to promotion decisions, for example, we intentionally redesigned how we did promotions, so more voices were included in decision making. We created a cross-functional and multi-layer team to make promotion decisions and support candidates through the promotion process. This redesign resulted in more equitable promotion outcomes AND the candidates and the committee members all praised the experience as an unexpected professional development opportunity.


Intentionally redesigning your practices to share power across your organization is a major part of designing for liberation.


Want to find out if your management practices are equitable? Download this free resource to learn more: https://bit.ly/manager_resource_tep


The link also includes information on how to enroll in our next cohort of #ThePracticeOfEquity Manager Series that launches April 28. 100% of our past participants agree that the course helped them to learn how to identify ways that patterns of oppression and dominance show up in standard managerial and organizational practices.


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