Jan 14, 2021
How to lead a diverse team during this sensitive time
Julissa Merius

Did you know? It is against the law to hire with bias. I’m sure you knew that. One-too-many business owners have experienced significant loss due to their team’s lack of diversity for you not to know that.

Sodexo, a food managing company, settled a lawsuit out of court; sued by employees claiming racial bias. The settlement amount? 80 million dollars. And that’s just the truth, that’s not to scare you. Making sure your crew is diverse is not only a priority because your customers are diverse, but it can/will help save you money in the long run.

Now. Let’s say you have taken the plunge, and your team is the most diverse team anyone has ever seen.

What is the best way to go about managing this bright and colorful crew?

Write Anti-Discriminatory Policies

There is a certain level of professionalism demanded at a business. Working without prejudice is one of them. It would be best if you wrote this stance explicitly in your workforce policies. While this seems like a no-brainer, many business owners are not loudly proclaiming “this is a prejudice-free zone” in their workforce documents, and that’s a problem. Only 32% of HR managers confidently believe they do not hire prejudicially in practice. Prove to your employees that you are a professional in all aspects by clearly outlining your stance on discrimination in your policies. Prove to your workers that you back inclusive policies and belief in building a diverse team by having it written down on paper. State this clearly in your workplace policies and regular meetings.

Hire Awesome Leadership

Great! You’ve officially made it to a point where you are hiring more diverse employees. Believe it or not? This is when all the hard work begins. Not from you, of course.

You own the place!

But from your managers. In this research on the effects of a more diverse team on workplace performance, psychologists reveal that hiring diverse teams comes with its own set of problems. The researchers learned that team diversity could sometimes lead to an awkward group dynamic and stalled communication.

But! The research also offered a solution to this dilemma:

“Leveraging team diversity for greater team performance will often require more significant investment by the team leader.” — Environ Res Public Health.

Your management will be integral in the fight to combat any adverse effects of a more diverse group. To be clear: to have a compelling blend of cultures in the workplace, you will need a top of the line manager.

Implement An Open Door Policy

Here we have: You have made your stance clear and hired awesome management, but that doesn’t mean you are out of the woods yet.

Start an open door policy so all employees, no matter the level, feel comfortable coming to you with their concerns. If you are low on time and think that you don’t have enough time for an open door policy, then getting an app where you can post announcements or bullets to your team might be the safest way to go. This use of technology is perfect for business owners stressed about an open door nightmare:

Remember, You’re Human

So be kind. Not just to other people but to yourself too.

MOST of the insensitive business practices rejected now were the norm less than ten years ago. Change takes time. Don’t feel as if you must uproot your entire team to be successful during these times. It all begins with intention. Is it your intention to be a business owner that promotes bias and prejudice in 2021? If you intend to operate in this way, then change will be challenging, and your business will exude “struggling to keep up with the times.” However, if you intend to be an inclusive employer that promotes fairness and equality, it should all be straightforward, and you won’t even need this silly little list to manage a diverse team.

Suppose you feel that you are the former business owner? A stuck-in-the-mud of-where-things-used-to-be kind? Don’t worry. There’s still hope.

Here are some magical resources for you:

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