Anti-Racism and Diversity in the Workplace - A guide to getting started for business owners and managers

Alex Woodward |
Alex is a Growth Marketing Manager at Snagajob, where she works with sales to help connect businesses with the right workers. Her first hourly job was as a barista at Caribou Coffee.

There’s so much happening in the world right now and navigating all the changes at once can feel overwhelming. All of these issues affect your business in immeasurable ways, so Snagajob is here to help. 

Recently, Dr. Tiffany Jana, Founder of TMI Consulting and Snagajob’s Senior Vice President of People, Candace Nicolls, recently connected for an honest discussion about anti-racism and diversity in the workplace. 

We’ve put together this guide of four things you can start doing right now to help your employees and customers. You can also listen to the full conversation about Anti-Racism and Diversity in the Workplace on demand.

Here’s how to begin your anti-racism and diversity journey: 

1. Acknowledge your bias

Your biggest source of employees is your own referral network. When you hire like that, though,  the result is an entire business full of similar people with similar views. But everyone is looking for new ideas. So what happens when you find a great team member who doesn’t look or think like everyone else?

“If we’re more segregated now than we were in the height of legal segregation, that means it’s stunted our cultural fluency.”

If you don’t have the ability to communicate and work across cultural differences, then you’ll have a difficult time hiring, promoting and nurturing the career path of an individual if you don’t know how to relate to them. Take a look at your team and see if you find a “same-same group.” If you do, it’s time to think about how that happened and how you can change it.

2. Recognize differences and address racism

Look at the systemic issues and create a structure for inclusion. You have to identify biases that are embedded within the system. You can have the best intentions when it comes to diversity, but if you have outdated procedures, rules, policies and systems that are biased toward certain experiences (think education, relationships or extracurricular activities), you’ll continue to get the same results.  

You have to critically analyze your system for subjectivity. You need a team that has different views because they represent your customers. Think about the structure and the unwritten rules in your business, the things that have always been done a certain way just because that’s how they’ve always been done. You need different perspectives to help you break out of these old, systemic ways of thinking.

“[You] benefit from all the things we can now quantify as the advantageous aspects we get if we have diversity and equity in inclusion. You don’t get that if you don’t ever let anyone have an opinion that’s different from yours.”

As managers and business owners, you have to understand your own relationships to these aspects of life. Look at your individual accountability. Even now, in the biggest civil rights movement in history, the most aware allies are having their own reckoning. It’s time to really pay attention and understand the way you benefit and inadvertently uphold the systems that continue to oppress others.

3. Say something, even if you’re afraid it’s the wrong thing

The issue isn’t if you mess up, it’s when you mess up. We’re all dealing with racial reckonings, on multiple levels. But there’s no option to skip the hard work. So be prepared to apologize and own up to your mistakes. You have to trust the people you lead to help you. 

“Stay in, even though it’s uncomfortable. Do your best, try your best. When you slip up, just own it, dust yourself off and keep moving.”

4. Start right now 

Remember that the people you’re leading are human. Now is not the time to try out management techniques you learned in business school or read in an article. Be more compassionate, as we’re living in unprecedented times on every level.

How you respond as a leader right now will be a defining moment in your career. People are going to remember how you treated them while they were going through trauma. Think about how you’ll engage your team right now—will you focus on tasks and deadlines to keep your business afloat, or will you be thoughtful and judicious in how you treat others?

Let your team know that you’re aware of what’s happening in the world right now and that you’re feeling pain with them. Be open and honest—maybe you don’t know as much as you’d like, but you’re learning and doing everything you can to be supportive. Invite them to reach out to you if they need to. Be there for them. 

“You want to make space for people of color, but you want to make sure you make the space for everyone.”

Stay tuned for more information from our talk with Dr. Tiffany Jana, Founder of TMI Consulting, coming next week. Or you can listen to the entire conversation on Anti-Racism and Diversity in the Workplace anytime on demand.

For more information and helpful resources for managing your business, visit Hourly Insights.