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‘Hitting the brakes on hate’ in the workplace takes proactive thinking, intentionality

Holly Edgell (left) and Susan Balk (right) discussed combating workplace discrimination on Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air.
Holly Edgell (left) and Susan Balk (right) discussed combating workplace discrimination on Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air.

Discriminatory practices and instances of prejudice continue to exist in workplaces nationally, despite increased awareness of what constitutes sensitive behavior.

Though the word “hate” may seem like a strong one to characterize instances of subtle workplace bias, Holly Edgell told host Don Marsh on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air that, “to really put a word to [workplace discrimination] that has some power … is not inaccurate by any means.”

Edgell is St. Louis Public Radio’s race, identity and culture editor, and she will be a panelist at the Missouri Historical Society’s “Woke at Work” event Tuesday evening.

Another panelist, Susan Balk, also joined the on-air conversation. Balk is the founder of Hatebrakers, an organization dedicated to disrupting cycles of hate in the workplace and beyond.

“There are acts of hate,” she explained, “that can leave trauma.”

Balk added that she thinks, “it’s really about what [behavior] we feed and what we don’t feed.” For this reason, her organization honors and supports companies and individuals “hitting the brakes on hate” in their daily lives.

Edgell has been tracking incidents of prejudice in her reporting, and she emphasized that an important means of combatting hate in the workplace is by being proactive rather than reactive. It is the responsibility of individual businesses to determine what preemptive anti-discrimination policy looks like for their organization.

“Companies that do proactive work can also collaborate and share ideas across enterprises,” Edgell noted. “It’s about being conscious and intentional within your workplace or organization.”

Related Event:

What: Woke at Work

When: 7 p.m. October 23, 2018

Where: Lee Auditorium, Missouri History Museum, 5700 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63112

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex HeuerEvie HemphillLara Hamdan, and Xandra Ellin give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Xandra Ellin is so psyched to join the St. Louis on the Air team as this fall’s production intern! Xandra graduated from Wesleyan University this spring with a degree in Psychology and American Studies. She found ways to incorporate a passion for radio into her academic pursuits, with an honors thesis that dealt with the psychological and sociocultural phenomena that have historically made localized radio a viable mechanism for social change in American communities. Xandra’s career in public radio began at her college radio station, WESU, where she was the Public Affairs Director by day and a music DJ by night. She has also had two production internships prior to this one: one at WYPR in her home city of Baltimore, MD in 2017 and another at WNPR in Hartford, CT in 2018. When she's not at KWMU, Xandra spends her time going for runs, watching bad reality television, and serving up some quality local artisan brews through her side hustle at the Craft Beer Cellar in Clayton.