The Diversity Bull In The China Shop

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  • The Diversity Bull In The China Shop

Some Thoughts Based On Recent Events

Human resources issues may seem like a long stretch for the Gym Insight Blog but this is a serious set of issues that could easily cause any small business to lose the farm. I’m talking about the fast changing and very sensitive issues of equality and diversity in the workplace and the gym.

Recent incidents in fitness centers, where the key issues were the poor handling of diversity and the rapidly evolving legal environment, have made this something that every gym owner should be prepared to confront. That basically means getting along with people who may have different racial roots, religious backgrounds or sexual orientations, to name but a few.

Keeping Ahead Of Chaos

There are some things going on in the world of business that are confusing and bewildering. Many of them originate from issues of coping with and responding to diversity of the people we encounter in our daily lives and workspaces. As gym owners this means that we can be dealing with interpersonal issues that risk offending one person’s rights in order not to violate the rights or protected status of another.

Small business owners across the board have to adapt and learn quickly before you get caught in some conflict that is impossible to de-escalate. You can only do so much but you owe it to do the things that can be done to minimize the threat of conflict in a litigious age. Now that we are drifting into unfamiliar and complicated territory you will find there are situations that have no easy answers.

Skills Of The Equal Opportunity Employerdiversity

Once again the big box companies have some advantages when they deal with issues of equality or discrimination. In this case it is the knowledge base built into full sized human resources departments. There will always be enough experience and knowledge to prevent situations occurring and address them effectively when they do occur.

There are still situations that might be unique and yet to be published as case studies. It is unfortunate of course that there will be those who are due to the rate of change in our culture and business environment. When one set of rights is in conflict with another there is bound to be friction, social outrage and legal action.

The original source of the actions has very often been the laws enacted by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There have been many cases over the years that have defined the laws regarding equal opportunity under the act. This has led to an industry within human resources that helps to train managers to avoid and prevent complaints in the workplace.

The knowledge base is readily available to train yourself and your people in handling diversity. There are firms that post online training courses that cover diversity and rights in the workplace at a wide range of levels, from general basic to specific ways to combat discrimination or harassment in the executive office space.

Your competition in the big box gym centers have access to all the human resources training they need. The knowledge that is available may not be perfect when it comes to dealing with awkward conflicts and issues of diversity but it will give you a clear view of the issues and the trends. That should help you to limit the risk of escalating sensitive situations.

The Hazards Of Escalation

There is only so much that you can do to protect yourself as a gym owner or manager. However, it is really important to learn the basics of how to prevent upset and not getting into a fight that causes much worse damage than originally occurred.

If you have not had diversity training you should find an online course that suits your needs and your state’s laws. Then you should get the key members of your staff trained and onboard with the right (de-escalation) mindset. Since the big brands are having as much trouble with diversity as anyone, that should help to level a very bumpy playing field.


Fagan, Lawrence. Cancellation: Inoculation or Escalation? January 20, 2014. (accessed September 16, 2015).

Greenberg, Josh. Diversity in the Workplace: Benefits, Challenges and Solutions. 2004. (accessed September 16, 2015).

Protzman Howlett, Sarah. Hot Button Issues Could Create Legal Liabilities for Unprepared Health Club Owners. September 15, 2015. (accessed September 16, 2015).