Are you guilty of falling into the unconscious bias trap? How would you know it’s unconscious? In today’s world, we are striving to be promoters of diversity, open to all genders, races, sexualities, ages, social classes and abilities – yet many of us may still be unaware of the reasons for inequalities in the modern workplace, especially at executive and leadership levels. Look around, is your team truly diverse?
When thinking of bias, we usually think of a lack of women in leadership, the term “man up”, or a certain age group being terrible with technology but it can really be as simple as not catering for somebody who is left handed. Studies have found that stereotypes help people navigate the world without being overwhelmed, by clustering people into groups of similar traits – this means prejudice could be wired into us from a young age.
Do you know your own bias, or do you owe it to yourself to look deeper? If you’re reading this and are in charge of hiring or managing, you need to do more to be a champion of diversity.
Using our member base as a sample, it’s clear that having a diversity policy in place does not necessarily translate into having a diverse workforce. In today’s world we can’t afford to be biased, as doing so could limit not only your organisation’s potential, but also your own.
Diverse workforces have many benefits including increased adaptability, better customer service, greater innovation and easier recruitment and retention. For example, a team with varied backgrounds can provide different perspectives and ideas that may drive new ways of working: additional creativity the entire organisation can benefit from. Such characteristics may also have a positive effect on the team, as each member can build on others’ inputs and learn from one another, approaching activities in a different way as they develop new skills they may not have acquired otherwise.
An organisation that gets relationships right in the workplace will also likely begin to see relationships being formed in the wider community.
We often hear from our members that diversity, or the lack of, is affecting their ability to bring new ideas to the business. We also see more global companies trying to get ahead of legal requirements relating to diversity both internally and externally, benefitting from diversity as a unique selling point making them more attractive to so many new opportunities.
If your business is not accessible to all, you can’t expect to be attractive to all. It’s essential you create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable to identify, share and incorporate their diversity into the wider team’s operations.
An inclusive workplace encourages all employees to develop themselves, identifying any barriers to progression and actioning these. It’s these types of behaviours that support a happy working life; as we spend so many hours at work, this is key to motivation, retention and talent attraction.
Unconscious bias is not only apparent in the hiring process. It can also be experienced in day-to-day decision making as well as promotions and career progression. Without a diverse leadership team, how can you be expected to attract the diverse workforce you desire throughout your entire team?
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.