Optometry is an important niche in healthcare where professionals are responsible for finding solutions to bad eyesight and diagnosing eye diseases. As in all other industries, racial equity at work is vital in the field of optometry.
The effort to end structural and systemic racism should be led from the top and permeate to all levels within the company. There is a need to ensure equal representation and equal opportunities for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) employees. Here are some ways you can help build an environment where racial diversity is accepted and promoted.
1. Increase BIPOC representation in the organization
Improve representation of BIPOC by function and department throughout your organization. Provide focused training to the human resource department and recruit managers on bias-mitigation techniques in order to enable a fair interview process.
A useful tip would be to partner with external organizations in order to ensure a diverse pool of candidates to recruit employees from. In addition, evaluate the candidate pass-through rates to identify how you can strengthen candidate diversity.
2. Strive for diversity in black representation in optometry
Statistics show that as much as 88% of the professionals in the upper tier of the optometry industry are white males. This highlights a genuine need to increase racial equity in optometry businesses.
Provide support to optometry schools in establishing inclusive strategies. Programs should focus on consistently directing young minority students towards the field from an early stage, such as middle school.
Outreach programs can be developed by a partnership of optometry schools and organizations for communities with a sizeable minority population. This will increase awareness about optometry careers among black students and offer them concrete opportunities to begin their careers.
3. Provide opportunities for staff to gather as a group
Create safe spaces for your staff to gather and share their experiences. Employees, especially those that belong to minority groups, should feel free to express what they feel, ask questions and hold discussions on how an organization can help build racial equity at work.
There is a need to recognize that employees hail from different background and are likely to have a varied understanding of systemic racism. Get experts and facilitators on board to tackle these complexities.
4. Generate more growth opportunities for BIPOC employees
Initiate training, mentorship and leadership development programs for BIPOC employees in your organization. Coaching and skill development can be specifically targeted towards people who switch to optometry from other careers such as product management and software engineering.
Make sure the promotion practices throughout the organization follow are unbiased and equitable. Introduce a better structured internal mobility program to provide equal opportunities.
5. Have a zero tolerance practice for racist workplace practices
Empower and encourage employees at the workplace to voice their concerns against any racist practices inside the organization. If any staff member encounters unsafe, racist or illegal practices, they should have a safe channel to come forwards against it.
Racist practices include open acts as well as subtle aggressive behaviors that rob your BIPOC staff of their dignity. Adopt a zero tolerance policy against all such practices so that women and minority groups are more empowered and feel comfortable in speaking out against them.
Providing the minority population with better opportunities at work in the optometry industry requires a focused effort. Organizations as well as educational institutes belonging to the sector need to take concrete measures to maintain racial equity at work.