Company Culture
DEI / Leadership / Workplace culture

The Chauvin verdict is in. That doesn’t mean the workplace discussion is over

The guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin in George Floyd's death provides accountability, but the work for racial justice continues. It's not a moment to move on.

The work for change continues. (Photo by Life Matters from Pexels)

The verdict is in from a Minneapolis court room: Former police officer Derek Chauvin is guilty on three counts, including murder, in the killing of George Floyd.

It’s a moment to recognize a measure of accountability from the justice system. Yet it’s also clear that the fight for racial justice won’t be over after today. Multiple police killings over the last couple of weeks in the Midwest have offered plenty of evidence.

Through our lens of tech and business coverage, we know from our reporting that economic justice and career pathways can be important parts in the change that’s sought. And we’ve seen community leaders speak with one voice on equity, bringing new energy.

The verdict might offer hope. But the events of recent years are blinking lights that there’s more work to do. It’s a time to consider the trauma a colleague may be experiencing, or how it’s time to offer time for self-care to a direct report.

Above all, it’s not time to move on.

“The black community is tired,” wrote Shannon Morales, founder of Philadelphia-based recruiting company Tribaja, on LinkedIn, republished here with permission. “Tired of hurting, tired of feeling, and tired of protesting. It’s times like these that we rely on the support of our allies, the ones that believe that injustices done to one group, are injustices done to us all.”

She also called for solidarity among those who have spoken about racial justice.

“Write that post to support the black community, just like you wrote that post to support Asians, like you wrote that post to support whites, like you wrote that post to support pet abuse, and any other causes you stand behind,” she said. “Stand behind us because we are still exhausted and being silent isn’t saying nada.”

That goes for company leaders, too. Today, employees may be struggling to work, or need time away to process.

Managers, note that it’s important to go beyond “How are you?” when checking in with employees right now. Address current events with compassion and genuine plans of action. As D.C.-based Alignstaffing founder and CEO Aaron Copeland wrote in January: “As a leader of a company, you should be open. Ask questions instead of offering answers. Focus on our commonalities. Know your own limitations, know your bias. Be present. Just be there.”

“Trauma doesn’t pick and choose a time and place to show up and workplaces can’t pick and choose which event to respond to,” Philly HR consultant Talia Edmundson told in the hours after this year’s Capitol insurrection — and it applies now, too. “Employees are consistently expected to continue working through extraordinary circumstances, none of which are equally impacting on an individual level. Business as usual is not a response. Pretending these events didn’t happen is not a response. Employees need to know when a significant event occurs, they will not be expected to execute at their highest level.”

Her advice echoes that of D.C. HR consultant Tamara M. Rasberry, also from January.

“Understand if some people don’t feel like working today,” Rasperry said then. “Understand if folks are emotional. Understand if some folks want to talk about it and some folks don’t want to talk about it at all. There is no one-size-fits-all response to something of this magnitude. The key is to have developed the type of workplace culture in which people feel comfortable expressing their concerns and have faith that their leadership supports them.”

And it’s not up to leaders what constitutes need, Edmundson said.

“Companies need to come to terms with not being the ones to determine which events ‘qualify’ as significant,” she said. “Working through confusion, rage, fear, and a host of emotions is not new and the last nine months have compounded this reality. We’ve truly reached a point where companies have developed their response or wasted countless opportunities to thoughtfully create ways for employees to process what is happening in their lives and the world they live in.”

Reflecting on the verdict, Morales said she’s grateful for the moment of pause.

But it must be short.

“The verdict is one step in the right direction for years of seeing steps in the wrong direction,” she told “It is a sigh of relief. I know for our community, we feel like we can take a small break from protesting and being vocal so that we can relish in the fact that justice was on our side this time. We still have a lot of work to do.”

What can you do today, for yourself and your team? Don’t think it’s the end, and don’t let it pass, either.

Black Lives Matter.


Some additional resources:

People: Aaron Copeland / Shannon Morales / Tamara Rasberry / Talia Edmundson

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