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Managing a Diverse Team Requires These 6 Essential Behaviors

There should be no double standards when it comes to acceptable behavior or performance on the job.

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BY Quora - 11 Oct 2017

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As a white engineering manager, what should I do to support black engineers I work with? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Charlotte Lang, on Quora:

As a white engineering manager, what should I do to support black engineers I work with?

The exact same thing you'd do with your white engineers or your Hispanic engineers, or your Indian engineers, or your Asian engineers, or any engineer that works for you who has promise.

Based on my experience as a black engineer, please do the following:

  • Give them growth projects. We aren't window dressing to be paraded out during interviews to show how diverse and open minded your company is while we molder at the bottom of the corporate chain doing scut work while the white engineers get promoted, often with less experience and credentials. We expect to be given appropriate projects and to be promoted if we are good, and expect our supervisors and managers will judge us by our ability and work output.
  • Ask them what they want to do with their careers and help them to get there through mentoring and advice.
  • Go to bat for them with your superiors when required. Make sure that whatever is going on with them really is a problem, and not colored by the fact that they look different.
  • No double standards when it comes to acceptable behavior or performance on the job. Whatever you consider to be acceptable behavior for your white engineers should be the same behavior you accept from engineers of any other race. I will note as a black woman engineer, one of the things that really set me off was that white male engineers were allowed to be rude and difficult, but if women and people of color were the same way, it would earn them a talking to. If you won't take it from your black engineers, don't take it from your white engineers.
  • Be careful that you don't constantly surround yourself with people who look just like you. Make sure the teams are diverse, and that the same people don't always get the best projects while everyone else just gets leftovers.
  • Be mindful of the structure of your organization. Typically, the higher the position, the whiter it is. Black engineers more often than not don't seem to get much past the senior engineering level, while white engineers get promoted to supervisory and management positions sooner. Be conscious of that when promotion time comes--is that white engineer you are ready to promote really the best choice, or does he seem to "fit in" better?

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