Mega-Threats in Modern Society

Mega-Threats in Modern Society


From Erica Taylor, MD, PDC Associate Chief Medical Officer for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 

Like many of you, I long for the day when we no longer need to navigate this very repetitive threat to the well-being and survival of our communities. It is apparent that we are working against a societal culture in which there is disparate value placed on the lives of marginalized populations. The brutal murder of Tyre Nichols, circulating on video around the country, shows us that policy reform and trainings are not enough to fix the harms that are happening to our fellow humans.

For years, as a leader in DEI, I could not find the right words to articulate this heaviness and the impact these types of events had on my work. Nor could I figure out the best approaches to address this in the workplace. However, in 2022, I learned about a helpful concept, mindset, and approach to begin peeling through the complex layers that these events bring. I am compelled to share this with you - the concept of "Mega-Threats".

Described by a team led by Duke Fuqua School of Business Professor Dr. Angelica Leigh, Mega-Threats are: incidents that are 1) negative, 2) receive intense media attention, and 3) are intrinsically linked to the victim(s) identities(race, gender, sexuality, religion, immigrant status, etc.). 

Think: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Atatiana Jefferson, Colorado's Club Q, Atlanta Spas, Tree of Life Congregation, and too many more. 

These events negatively impact members of our workforce and teams who have similar identities to the victims, bringing about feelings of threat and the enormous stress of wondering "Am I Next?" Collectively, this can result in an inability to work, avoidance of tasks, and disengagement with colleagues.


I encourage you to review the summary article of this phenomenon and its supporting evidence. Consider how you can be part of the healing in your spaces. The article also reviews ways in which leaders can understand and navigate these complexities. We are all growing in this area. The more we learn, the better we can communicate with our constituents and support one another.

I hope this is helpful for you. It was for me. We are in this together.