Anissa Thompson on the importance of discussing tough topics at work.
Anissa Thompson worries when her co-workers are stressing over society’s issues. Case in point: When racial tensions heightened during a series of police shootings in the United States, she invited fellow employees to her home to talk about the situation.
Why did she do it? Because when traumatic or stressful events are going on outside of work, they can affect us even inside office walls. “People were very upset. They might not have felt they could talk to their supervisor or that they could bring those problems to work,” Anissa says.
As executive sponsor of Accenture’s Washington, D.C., African-American employee resource group, Anissa knows the importance of frank and open discussions. Creating an environment where people feel safe talking about issues makes them feel valued as employees and, more importantly, as human beings, she says.
After the shootings, Anissa says, Accenture hosted a fireside chat for people to share their concerns. “Our leaders listened, and they acted.”
“It’s really important for institutions to recognize that the concerns we hold about the world are always with us—they don’t stop when we step through the office door. We need to create safe spaces for employees to bring their whole selves to work,” she says.
“This openness and dialogue is critical because we ask so much of our employees these days,” Anissa explains. “It’s a small way companies can give back to their people, letting them know they are respected and valued.”
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