5 Essential Tips
First the good news: there has been progress. After all, who in the 1960s would have imagined that the United States would have a popular, two-term president?
But much improvement is needed, as evidenced by the continuing spate of high-profile, fatal police actions against Black men and others.
We see this need for improvement even in the ridiculous. Actor/comedian Chris Rock was once stopped by the police three times in the seven weeks. Rock hilariously posted selfies of each police stop, but there is tragedy within: he was likely stopped by police because of profiling.
This lingering profiling, suspicion, and racism certainly affects the workplace. In fact, the issue of race in the workplace will only become more pressing, as our workforce becomes increasingly diverse.
Today, some 36% of our workforce is comprised of people who are not Caucasian. These include Hispanics (16%), Blacks (12%), and peopel of Asian descent (5%).
By the year 2050 there will be no ethnic or racial majority in the United States. This will heavily impact the workplace, as immigrants and their children will account for 83% of the workforce growth.
How does your workplace need to respond? You need an effective diversity training program, and one facet it must focus on is race. Here are 5 ways employees can modify their behavior, to foster racial awareness, respect, and inclusion.
1. Foster Respect
All employees need to make the effort. When interacting with people from a different racial background, respect the difference. If a coworker has a different ethnicity, unusual accent, or a name that’s difficult to pronounce, make the effort to respect, and accept differences as equally valid as your own identity.
2. Take Care With Humor
Many jokes rely on making fun of someone. If you’re making fun of race or ethnicity or nationality, it can only lead to harmful consequences. Still want to be witty or funny? The safest jokes are always the ones in which people gently poke fun at themselves.
3. Say No to Stereotypes
The problem with stereotypes is that they can be hurtful – even when intended as a compliment. People often say that Blacks are great at certain activities, or Asians always excel in a certain area. But even positive, complementary stereotypes are far from true – and usually frustrate the individual.
4. Get Cultured
People are generally proud of their backgrounds. If coworkers are of a different race, or born in another country, make the effort to learn about their culture and background. A diversity calendar is an essential for raising awareness of events important to diverse groups.
Proud of my German heritage, I once asked a Black American friend what country his ancestors hailed from. We both knew that for many Black Americans, this can be difficult if not impossible to answer. But my friend – who told me he thinks his ancestors came from the area that is now Ghana – deeply appreciated my asking.
5. Include All
As we all have different appearances, so too do we have different worldviews. Whenever making business decisions, involve people from diverse races. Involving team members from all backgrounds will help ensure that your decisions will be successful in our increasingly multiethnic, multiracial society.