The past decade has had a focus on inclusivity and stopping racism from happening, and one way to do this is through having an inclusive workplace. On paper, that sounds great, but in practice, it can be challenging. Discussing race and facing our own biases can make us uncomfortable and it can be hard to maintain a diverse workplace.
Here are some ways to do it.
The leader of the organization needs to be made an example. If you’re a leader, looking at your own unconscious biases is important. These are stereotypes that are ingrained in one’s mind that can affect how people choose employees and treat others. It’s commonly associated with race and gender identity, with women of color having the most impact. This especially applies if the leader is white, even if they try to be equal in their treatment.
Age, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors can be a part of the unconscious biases as well. The leader needs to be the one to incite change. While talking to people who are marginalized are important as well, putting the burden on them is not what one needs to do. Instead, the leader needs to make a change.
No one likes talking race, and there are several reasons for this. From not having to speak about it to worry about saying something wrong, it doesn’t make people comfortable. Even if someone is progressive, it may not be a subject one wants to talk about.
This is understandable. With that said, a marketer needs to educate themselves as best as they can and try to learn from their mistakes. From books, podcasts, films, and webinars that focus on diversity, microaggressions in the workplace, and what you can do to be better.
Examples of these microaggressions include asking black men and women about the hair they have. This especially applies if your black employees feel as though they have to avoid wearing their hair naturally.
Recruitment is another way you can address any unconscious biases. How you write ads, where you advertise, your target audience, etc, can help you spot patterns. If you end up having only white people apply to your job, why is this? Is it how you’re advertising? It’s important to question how you can tinker with your ads in order to have more inclusivity.
Interviewing can be a challenge. What is your process? Does your senior manager seem to favor certain types of people? Usually, people can be biased towards those who are similar to them. They may have assumptions about those who are different.
Sometimes, they don’t have to be too extreme, but they can still be harmful. For instance, if you have an application by someone who has an Indian name, you may believe they are not native to your country, and vice versa with any white-sounding names. It’s important to look at each candidate without any unconscious biases getting in the way.
Many companies advertise how inclusive they are, but on the inside, they have employees who don’t feel comfortable and white employers who feel like it’s too much of a hassle. They do not realize that it’s about everyone doing this together.
One way to actually be inclusive is how you handle discrimination. Many people will just ignore claims of discrimination because it’s uncomfortable and they do not want to be isolated from others for speaking out. Ask questions and figure out what’s going on. Make some work to make any diverse communities feel a sense of camaraderie with the rest of the community.
Every business has some work to do in order to improve its inclusivity and diverse workforce. While it is important that you improve yourself, you also want to be humble and not rave about your workforce when there are problems with it.