Entrepreneurs and discrimination doesn’t have to be a problem. Learn how you can curb hate in the marketplace. There was a time, not too long ago, less than a 100 years ago, when discriminating against certain groups of people, based on their colour or their origin, was considered “normal.”
During the British rule in India, signs like the above, were not considered necessarily out of place. It was “normal” to view Indians this way.
History is littered with infinite examples of discrimination in all parts of the world.
Unfortunately, today the issue continues to exist in several ways. For the people engaging in this kind of an act, it is an expression of their deep-set prejudice against the targeted group of people.
A more recent example of this is the discrimination being faced by Asian-Americans in the United States. With COVID origins largely viewed as being from China, the rage and despair of the pandemic impacting one’s life, has found expression through hate, especially towards Asian-Americans.
Gandhi said ,“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change…We need not wait to see what others do.”
If you are an entrepreneur, then you can make a deeper impact within your organization, with this thought in mind.
After all, small businesses tend to reflect the values embraced by the owner.
It starts with you
First dig in deep and recognize any sort of bias you might have towards Asian-Americans. If you do not have any then that’s great. However, if you do, then spend the time to first acknowledge this and then address this issue. Conversations with other people while being deeply connected with your inner emotions, and having an open mind, are key for this process.
Overcoming your prejudice involves both heart and mind to be in sync.
Lead by Example
Racism can be expressed overtly and covertly.
For example, if you are the owner of a small shop, and you find the person at the cash counter, being discriminatory against an Asian-American customer, then step in and take over, if you can. Later, make a point of viewing this behavior as completely unacceptable. Have a conversation with the employee. If there are other employees, let this objection be known openly.
Or might be looking to source some goods from a vendor, and your team member quietly cuts out a potential vendor, because he “knows” that the vendor is Asian-American. Put the vendor back on the list, and again, have a conversation to address this.
It’s your world
The kind of culture you create within your organization is up to you. As a business owner, you place particular importance to finite metrics such as profit, turnover, and cash flow. Culture is the glue which directs the kind of decisions the organization makes. Anti-racism should be a core component of such a culture.
Entrepreneurs are really at the grass root level of being able to make long-lasting impactful change. In the process of doing so, you might lose some people who do not subscribe to your value-set. And that’s okay – your role is to draw the line and have constructive conversations within your company. How your team members react to it, over a period of time, is something you can only try and influence. You cannot control that reaction.
As an entrepreneur, you do not need to come up with grand mission and vision statements. Your business is generally an extension of your own personality and values. If you are finding this kind of racism prevalent around you, then I encourage you to step-up to the plate, and be counted for making a positive change.
Written by Deven Patodia, is an entrepreneur from India, making custom eco-friendly bags. He has lived in the US for 10 years, and is currently residing in India. He loves helping small businesses, especially start-ups and people with ideas. He is an avid reader and likes to pen his thoughts from time to time.