3 Effective Approaches to Managing Across Racial Differences

More and more, companies and organizations are hiring Chief Diversity Officers, building out their strategies to retain diverse talent, and acknowledging the importance of developing teams that are comprised of individuals from different backgrounds. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where scrolling through the headshots of the leadership team on a company’s website and realizing that they’re all white men actually makes you scratch your head and wonder how they missed the boat. But it’s not enough to prioritize diversity hiring efforts. Truthfully, diversity efforts without well thought out and executed inclusion efforts can cause more harm than good to minority employees who end up feeling tokenized and isolated.

Managing across lines of racial difference isn’t just about white managers overseeing their minority direct reports, though. It’s also about the increasing number of Black managers who lead teams of white employees. Without either party developing a true understanding and comfort level with nuanced cultural differences, preferences and norms, employees on both ends can feel like they’re not being developed, supported or invested in the ways that they need to be, leaving no one happy. Here are a few tips for building stronger manager relationships  with this in mind:

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Learning to Play the Game to Change the Game

This week, I’ve had the privilege of attending the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 46th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. Here, I’m surrounded by inspiring, Black change-agents who are all working tirelessly to eradicate the social and systemic injustices that plague our community.  For a few days, we don’t feel like minorities. We look around rooms full of positional power, and we see ourselves. For a few days, we don’t have to justify our feelings or make a case for our perspectives; we don’t have to code switch or rework our standpoints so they fit within the unspoken dominant expectation. For a few days, we are surrounded by a sea of raw, authentic, beautiful Blackness. And it feels good.

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