Today's social climate requires leaders to stand for racial equity in their organizations. Leaders will have to traverse the current minefield of race, a field where the best of intentions can quickly go wrong. As your organization's leader, you will risk being seen as both a good person by some and the one who is rocking the stable, steady boat by others. You will have to face the "I hate change" and the "it ain't broke, why are you trying to fix it?" organization members. In short, you'll need a strong leadership spine. Equity is not equality. For an organization to create equity, it will have to assess itself, take stock of where it has gone wrong, and make uncomfortable and sometimes inconvenient changes.

As a leader, you will have to be courageous and heroic when it comes to racial equity. You'll have to speak up when things are not right, make changes that may not be popular, and create a climate where racism is not tolerated.

The best leaders are action-takers. Your actions count. Your actions set examples for your team and the organization at large. When you lead through action, you set a positive example and inspire others to similarly take action.

Few things will inspire dissent in your ranks as quickly as being seen to be hypocritical. If you stand for equity, you will be expected to do as you say. You are in charge, and with that comes responsibility. To support your organization's racial equity initiative, you need to attend meetings and conversations. You won't be expected to be in all events, but you need to participate in some if you really care.

Listen, share, and become race literate so that you can contribute to the conversation. Make a solid financial investment in racial equity. Making a financial commitment shows that the company is willing to do more than put words on a mission statement. It shows that you care enough to invest in the organization's transformation.

Commit to a strategy of lasting change. When you're dealing with racism, you are dealing with a 500-year-old history. That means that you are dealing with 500 years' worth of conditioning. You won't solve that in a day or with one training. Commit to life-long learning for yourself and your company. Hire experts with lived experience. Being well-read on topics of race is essential to understanding the issues. But there is no substitute for lived experience, and that you will only find by hiring people of color.

Be decisive when it comes to race and racism. Leaders are often afraid of doing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing, and being seen as or accused of being racist. When something race-related happens in the organization, address it head-on. Don't delay or avoid. That just makes the situation worse. Instead, speak to your racial equity team about what has happened and how to best address it.

Seek just solutions, and let your racial equity team know that you appreciate the work that they do every day to keep the organization's goal of becoming more inclusive on track. Being a courageous leader means taking responsibility for the team. It means protecting all team members so that they can do their best work. 

A courageous leader can admit that they don't know what they don't know when it comes to race. At that level of humility, a leader can courageously ask for help, opening the doors of racial awareness, compassion, and healing -- for self and organization.