Many churches and organizations feel either pressure or genuine desire to create diversity among their staff. However, if you move too quickly without asking the right questions, you could easily make things worse for both you and the hire.
Are You Convinced You Need a Person of Color?
First, are you convinced you need a person of color? You have to be able to answer this question with integrity. If you’re not honest and confident, you may end up playing into the cultural platitudes of tokenism and rebuilding the structures you want to dismantle. Paul the apostle exhorted the Corinthian church to embrace the truth about their situation—they needed one another.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it (1 Corinthians 12:15–26, NIV).
Will Your Current Culture Oppose a Person of Color?
In addition, will your current culture oppose the person you seek to hire? You may have a vision for a diverse team, but if your culture isn’t ready for it, you’ll destroy or derail this person.
Cultures tend to clash when you force them together.
Your organization has norms and systems of belief. When you hire a person of color, you aren’t just hiring their character, chemistry, and competence, but also the culture they carry. Cultures tend to clash when you force them together, which isn’t necessarily bad. However, suppose your organization isn’t flexible or willing to welcome the new person’s differences. In that case, they could feel immense demand to assimilate.
How Much Power Will You Give a Person of Color?
Lastly, how much power will they have? If you hire a person of color and give them responsibility without authority, you’ll shame and demoralize them. Instead, clarify how much power they’ll have and the boundaries they need to observe.
Answering these questions will help you know when and how to hire a person of color. Rushing to hire someone without asking these questions could devastate the person and discourage your organization from making progress in this area. God’s Kingdom is diverse, so let’s be wise in creating diversity in our churches.