Managers play a critical role helping their organizations become anti-racist and benefit from being truly multi-cultural. They must move beyond their reliance on human resources and take initiative to grow DEI from within the business. In addition to partnering with talent acquisition and development teams, here are three ways managers can demonstrate DEI leadership to their teams right now.
Back to Basics - Strengthen Your Social Skills
My career began in peace education, teaching social skills to children. It continues to be at the core of my work with leaders today. Self and social awareness are fundamental building blocks for leadership.
Make time to reflect on and deepen your understanding of how your identities and social roles influence your leadership, management style and interactions with others. In particular, exercise the leadership competency "awareness of impact." This means having an evolving, conscious understanding of how your words, behaviors and culture impact others - especially those different from you.
Examine how your identities and social roles impact your team. These identities and roles shape the stories you hold about how the world works and what success means. And, your identities shape how others are impacted by you… whether you’re aware of them or not.
Here are a few examples of identities, social roles and diversity characteristics to consider: race, ethnicity, gender, age, physical abilities, sexual orientation/identity, socio-economic status, income, religious beliefs, military experience, marital status, communication style/skills, work background, industry, education, language, citizenship, geographic location, parental status, recreation habits, appearance, and degree of individualism/collectivism. For any of these, consider the following:
One of the unwritten roles of a manager is to help remove barriers to their team’s success. Educate yourself on what barriers exist for BIPOC, women, LGBTQ, veterans and other identities/social roles at your company, in your industry and among your customers.
Deepen your understanding of how these barriers not only harm underrepresented populations, but hurt the entire team (and company). Look back at your goals/OKRs and consider how eliminating barriers could improve your team’s success. Consider the following questions:
Lead Anti-racist Cross-functional Business and Operations Initiatives
DEI will not be successful until it moves beyond talent acquisition, training, and human resources. It must be viewed as inherent in operations too.
Take stock of all the departments your team works with: sales, marketing, IT, product, engineering, etc. Every single department can and should have goals that are informed by DEI. Consider how your relationship, processes, and procedures with other teams help create a more inclusive and equitable company.
Every decision point is an opportunity to be anti-racist and shape a more equitable workplace and society. Every meeting you facilitate can be more inclusive. Every day is filled with possibility to change the way we work.
If a new potential team member asked you how DEI informs your management and leadership style, or how you personally uphold anti-racism in your place of work, could you answer them confidently? Make sure you can, and start taking care of business as a way to take care of people.