I posted before about strategies the average employee could undertake to help women, minorities, and even the underrepresented male who didn't go to the right school to get a little farther. Today I'll post the more obvious strategies we'd all like to see from people in a position of power.
I'm a lead/supervisor/manager
- Hire more minorities. Duh, right? If you are in a position to hire people, make sure you get a really broad pool of applicants. If HR won't give it to you, do the recruiting yourself. Ask former colleagues for resumes, specifically request the recruiters target minority schools or minority group events at the local college campuses. If it works anything like where I'm at, if you bring good people in more supervisors than just you will interview these people. Help get them in the door.
- Examine your biases. A lot of managers go by "gut instinct" to hire people. And there's nothing inherently wrong with that. But when you feel that in a bad way about somebody, make sure you can tie it in to something concrete. Just because someone is a different "color" or "gender" does not mean they won't fit in. Make sure you're not excluding them because they are different from the current staff.
- Back up good minority candidates. Maybe you aren't in a position to directly hire people. If interviews are happening and there was a good candidate that is a minority, don't be afraid to say something nice about them. Don't assume everyone else will see their good qualities automatically. If they say things like "Well I'm just not sure that person would be a good fit here" make them explain themselves. Make them come up with something concrete rather than resorting to feelings or covering up biases they may not realize they have with words like "company culture".
- Don't advertise. As soon as somebody thinks you're making an effort to bring in women/minorities they will shut you down faster than you can cover your tracks. They'll assume you're some affirmative action whackaloon, will ignore you, sideline you, and any semblance of authority you had to help good people will be gone.
- Be a good mentor. No it's not your responsibility to mentor people who are like you, nor is it your obligation. But don't you wish you had had more mentors in your life? If you see a good person that could be successful if they knew how to better navigate the territory step in and try to guide them. They may not always listen to you. They may not want your advice and may think they don't need it, that the world is fair and perfect now. You don't have to tell them they'll have it tougher because they are different from the boss, but you can be there to give them tips on how to act or what to do.
- Be somebody's sponsor. Sponsorship is more powerful than mentorship. Advocate for this person when they are not there. Give them good assignments. Work to get them promoted if they deserve it. You may not think you have any authority but often if you are at a mid-level position just your word or opinion can go a long way. I'm not suggesting to waste it on every single minority employee that comes along but if you feel there is someone you trust and respect who's not getting a fair shake behind the scenes while the boss is thinking only of his protoge, don't be afraid to throw your mentee's name out there.
- Don't tolerate sexism/racism. When your subordinates make cracks let them know that will not be tolerated. You may not have the authority to get people fired over things, but don't allow even seemingly innocuous comments to slip by. You have the opportunity to control your team's environment to some extent. Use it to make sure that environment is one that is welcoming to all colors and creeds.
I've probably missed some good stuff. So if anyone's reading this and has some ideas they'd like to add, either on my previous post for things us ordinary citizens can do or things you wish your boss would do, pipe up!