Last Word on Unconscious Bias

Oct. 25, 2017
people smiling

The days of leaders offering the same old platitudes about the importance of diversity and inclusion and considering that sufficient are long gone.

Employees care more about active steps than mere words. Millennials, in particular, are ready to take action if you’re not – nearly a third have said they’ve left a job for a more inclusive environment, according to Deloitte’s 2017 Inclusion Pulse survey. Diversity is no longer a “program” to be managed–it is a business imperative.

That same survey found millennials prioritize feeling comfortable being themselves and expressing their opinions and don’t necessarily want to be pigeonholed into the customary diversity-defining classifications like race or gender because they don’t view themselves through any single lens. This means that leaders who want to recruit and retain premium talent should consider looking beyond traditional means to diagnose how to truly advance diversity. To make meaningful changes, leaders should think critically about the work environments they’ve created and are creating.

It is worth it for leaders to take the time to examine whether they unconsciously exclude people due to subtle biases. These unconscious biases are, by definition, harder to recognize but can be just as detrimental as more overt forms of workplace prejudice. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs, but leaders must actively combat them before they influence decisions that stand in the way of building a diverse, inclusive workforce.

Leading organizations are introducing new education to address unconscious biases, and some are attempting to negate hiring biases by eliminating gender-related information on resumes.

Leaders should challenge themselves to embrace ideas and perspectives of those who look and sound and–most important–think differently. Varied perspectives can lead to more creative ideas and solutions, which can benefit your organization as well as your customers or clients. Leaders should seek feedback from a diverse array of sources to recognize and fix unconscious biases and make objective decisions. Those who can acknowledge and be aware of their biases will likely be better positioned to institute policies and structures to eliminate them and enable a free flow of ideas.

It’s reassuring to know that organizations are increasingly focusing on bias in recruiting and using new tools to reduce bias. According to Deloitte’s Human Capital survey, one in five respondents believe their organizations provide excellent training against unconscious bias, and more than two in three measure and monitor diversity and inclusion in recruiting.

But there is still much work left to do. The effort is vital and the results will be worth the investment. Talent is an organization’s lifeblood, and diverse perspectives and approaches are critical to solving complex and challenging issues.

Read the full report from Deloitte. 

Image Courtesy of Pexels.