Top 5 Reasons Leaders Fail At Race Inclusion And How To Fix Them

posted on June 29, 2020

By Forbes, Written by Carmen Morris

Racial equality is receiving a lot of coverage in the media. Calls for changes in the way companies and institutions have managed diversity and inclusion, are now a focused narrative within communities around the world, and leaders are being tasked to improve the experiences of black people.

The subject of racism has gone viral, and has put an increased focus on leadership to better engage with black communities and develop robust plans to eradicate institutional racism.

Companies and industries bodies are busy making public statements on the need to revisit diversity and inclusion strategies, and hiring managers to develop a more focused inclusion agenda.

It can be tempting to rush to hire a new diversity and inclusion manager, but there are some key factors that leadership must take into consideration, before doing so.

1.Understand what you are looking for.

Knowing what you want to achieve is a great place to start, but it’s not the end of the matter. There is a lot of panic around diversity and inclusion. Companies have sought to develop diversity and inclusion strategies, that in the main, have failed to address the needs and concerns of black people, leading to a situation where black employees, and their communities, fail to thrive at equal levels.

Embedding diversity and inclusion is a specialist area. Candidates must have deep understanding of the ‘why and how’, not just be able to answer questions, or debate the current situation, in a generalist way.

They must have deep understanding of how the employers have arrived at the current situation, and most importantly, have the skills and experience to assist them to implement, effective organisation wide solutions.

Leaders may fall into the trap of listening to the answers that are associated with ‘the what’, because of their lack of appreciation of the multiple facets that encompass race equality and inclusion.

The level of specialist knowledge and practice required to achieve robust outcomes, is not to be underestimated.

An example of this would be, if I take my car to a mechanic, I trust that they are qualified and competent, and that they understand the relationship between the engine, exhaust and other components of my car. I do this because my safety, and that of my family and friends, depends upon it. I need a competent mechanic to ensure that the job is completed to a high standard, and delivers the results, that I require for my safety.

Similarly, with race equality, diversity and inclusion, it is important that leaders know what they are looking for, and what to expect in terms of knowledge and expertise. It is imperative that they consider the interrelationships of how race equality impacts the business’s potential for progress.

It is key for the effective development, and progress of black employees, who have a right to the same career outcomes, and workplace experiences, as their white counterparts. It is also key to ensure that the brand can demonstrate an open and inclusive environment.

Hiring competent staff to develop the diversity and inclusion agenda is a good thing. It is something that is pertinent to alleviate the concerns of black and brown employees. But only if it is done correctly.

Before you rush to hire a diversity and inclusion manager, consider whether they are a generalist, or an expert and what demonstrable experience they have in developing race equality. Write a job description that is specific in this regard and seek confirmation at interview stage.

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