Mary-Frances Winters is the founder and CEO of the Winters Group Inc. She was named a top ten diversity trailblazer by Forbes magazine and a diversity pioneer by Profiles in Diversity Journal. Winters is the author of We Can’t Talk about That at Work, Inclusive Conversations, and Black Fatigue.
Winters is back with another book titled Racial Justice at Work: Practical Solutions for Systemic Change, which offers recommendations on how to adopt a justice mindset to address past harm beyond a checklist or performative actions.
Tell us about this book.
This book is about implementing very actionable steps toward justice, not just equality, not just equity, but justice.
We’ve often heard from clients that “we started with diversity, then we went to inclusion, then we went to equity.” Now some organizations are putting the J in the name with DEI. My sense is that they don’t really know what justice is and how to be justice-centered and focused. Equality means treating everybody the same. Equity means that you look at those differences and that everybody doesn’t need the same thing, so we should be treating people based on what they need. Justice means we correct the harm that has been done and that’s where people get hung up. We haven’t made progress.
My previous book was called Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit. This is kind of a follow-up to [ask] “how do we stop doing that, especially in the workplace?” With our business, we work with large organizations that have diversity in their root and in their ranks and they’re trying to understand how we can treat people fairly. This book gives them practical solutions. I’m not the only author of the book, this book was written by me and 11 other members of my team. As emerging thought leaders in this field … I wanted their voices to be heard as well.
Why is it crucial for leaders with decision-making power to create fair environments?
Leaders are those who are in power to make those decisions and oftentimes want to get out of that. They want to say, “Well, there’s nothing I can do.” What we saw in 2020 [is] you can do something. You have the power to make decisions even though they won’t necessarily change the world. You have the power to say “we’re going to interrogate our data.” You have the power to say that “the next hire is going to be an African American.” You have the power to say to your leaders who are saying they’re uncomfortable that they need to get over it, because this is what we’re going to do. Those leaders need the courage to step up and in order to have that courage, you have to believe in it, and you have to believe that it’s going to change the world and that it’s going to be good for your organization.