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Harvard Business Review: Supporting Employees After Violence Against Their Community

05 Oct 2022
“Mega-threats” — defined as incidents that are negative, receive intense media attention, and are intrinsically linked to the victim(s) identities’ (their race, gender, sexuality, immigrant status, etc.) — not only make employees with similar identities feel threatened. They can also impact their ability to work, resulting in a high avoidance of tasks and colleagues. Recent research explores why this occurs and outlines how organizations can better create an environment where underrepresented employees don’t have to manage the stress of asking, “Am I next?” alone.

Originally found at Harvard Business Review.


On March 23, 2012, then-President Barack Obama made a statement about the killing of an unarmed, 17-year-old Black teenager, Travyon Martin, by a neighborhood watch volunteer. “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin,” he said. “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.” Tim Cook, the openly gay CEO of Apple, shed tears during a moment of silence at a developer conference in 2016 to honor the 49 victims of a mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In 2019, Latinx individuals in the U.S. described feeling “hunted” after 22 people, almost all of whom were immigrants of Latinx descent, were killed in a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

These and other highly publicized deaths also led us, with our own respective Black, Indian, and immigrant identities, to become consumed by negative emotions that occur in the face of such tragedies: sadness, anger, and despair. Yet, we also felt threatened — like we were just one traffic stop or grocery store visit away from being harmed ourselves.

This experience was curious because these events did not directly happen to us or within our own immediate communities. However, they remained at the forefront of our minds for hours and sometimes days after the events, even altering how we navigated our day-to-day lives. This lingering feeling led us to ask, “Why?”

Continue reading the original article at Harvard Business Review.

Read the original research in Academy of Management Journal.

Read the Academy of Management Insights summary.

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