Overcoming Bias Requires Education, Implementation and Practice
Diversity has been proven to be beneficial in all levels within a company. But what is the best way to achieve it?
In our #Diversity Series of the week we analyse how companies can commit to a sustained inclusive work environment.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve analysed the concept of bias and evidenced the prejudicial impact it has in the workplace. Numerous studies have been conducted globally highlighting the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workforce. Recently, LinkedIn research revealed diversity as a top trend in the work environment. 78% of nearly 9,000 professionals across 39 countries indicated diversity as one of the solutions to improving a company’s overall culture, and over 60% directly correlating it with improved performance.
The consulting agency McKinsey also analysed 1,000 companies across 12 countries and verified how diversity and inclusion can be directly linked to improved financial performance.
And yet, many companies don’t know where to start or how to implement this change to their business. Are there any effective measures to control our biases?
Here are 4 Basic Steps:
#1 Know Your Bias
As mentioned in our first article, combatting our bias starts with us and the first tool is our self awareness. We need to be aware of our unconscious biases and identify their origin. When we challenge ourselves to talk and learn about it, the more aware we become and thus, we begin to consciously think about our decisions and actions.
“The odds of limiting the constraints of biases in a group setting rise when discussion of them is widespread.” – Daniel Kahnemann – Nobel Prize winner
#2 Focus on Logical Decisions
It’s important to encourage our minds to pay attention when dealing with a potential bias situation, especially if it affects someone else. For example, when facing hiring, promotion or feedback processes, leaders should take a step back and ask themselves:
- “Why am I choosing this person?”
- “Are my preferences for someone relevant to the job?”
- “Is my opinion based on solid information?”
Rather than focus on personal assumptions, focus on people as individuals. Construct your views and give them credit based on attitudes you see in the work environment routine.
#3 Face Your Biases
Facing your biases is not an easy task but it is constructive. Once we’ve identified and recognised our biases we should try to be more exposed if we want to eliminate it. Make time to listen to your colleagues and to participate in diversity debates. It works as a strategy to challenge your unconscious biases and potentially prove them wrong.
#4 Practice What You Preach
Make sure that the image you want to promote conveys with your practices in all levels. If you want diversity and inclusion to be part of your work culture, it is vital to ensure visibility within your employees. Training in unconscious bias, providing a structure for debate and open dialogue are some of the measures that can be implemented.
In this article, a study found that focusing on the negative consequences of biases is not that effective, as employees usually relate it to punishment. On the other hand, people tend to be more open when unconscious bias is shown as a natural behaviour.
Also, don’t be afraid to verbalise your support for diversity. If you encounter anyone perpetuating bias, consciously or unconsciously, don’t let it slide. Some circumstances can be sensitive, but a gentle reminder can make a huge difference.
Diversity In Action
We’ve put together a few examples of companies striving to find new ways to ensure diversity and inclusion is top of their priorities. Miriam O’Sullivan sums it up well in her quote below:
For the last few years, Aon concentrated on inclusion practices to make their people feel equally welcome in the workplace. In an interview with Silicon Republic, Aon head of HR Oisín O’Gogáin issued education as one of the main components to achieve diversity.
“All hiring managers and people managers must go through a course called The Power of Inclusion which is a education session based on the concept of unconscious bias training” – Oisín O’Gogáin
According to O’Gogáin equality has many facets and the concept is so broad but they are happy to continuing chase it year by year. Besides the course, other practices by Aon include sponsoring diversity events globally and developing a platform to talk properly and openly about diversity matters.
“We made appropriate investments both monetary and time and effort outside of our own organization to ensure that as an industry and as a large corporate we’re exercising the duty that we think we have to showcase how diversity can be conducive with good business” – Oisín O’Gogáin
Bank of Ireland (BOI) is one example of a company embracing the challenge to be a diversity champion. BOI has stated that it is changing its culture to ensure inclusion in all areas of the company.
The director Áine McCleary said Bank of Ireland established six diversity networks: LGBTQIA+ Pride, Gender Balance, Inter Generational, Multi Cultural, Parents/Carers and Accessibility. She explained the new networks “enable customers, colleagues and communities to thrive”. McCleary also revealed the secret of its success will be the support and sponsorship given by BOI senior executives in all networks.
myAccesshub is a service that develops learning solutions to promote inclusion in businesses environments, primarily within technology, financial and cybersecurity sectors. Co-Founder and Consultant Miriam O’Sullivan specialises on Neurodiversity to promote acceptance for people with disabilities.
O’Sullivan highlighted that time is the foundation to success in diversity practices as companies must establish a period of time to commit to their targets. Another key element is to use a top down approach, from senior leaders and managers, so it anchors a positive culture within the company.
“A broader view of diversity is required in order for a company to advertise themselves as being “diverse”. Starting with one element of diversity is key as we cannot be all things to all people at once; however, having a broader vision is important for the company and its leaders. This vision will drive the company forward when planning diversity and inclusion initiatives.” – Miriam O’Sullivan
Abodoo are passionate advocates for diversity and inclusion and consider it to be one of the foundations of our technology. Our platform uses smart algorithms to match potential employee skills with those highlighted in an employer’s requirements. Profiles are anonymous, matching skills rather than location or personal information, which acts as a more fair and impartial approach to overcoming unconscious biases.
We know that employee flexibility and diversity benefits both companies and employees, through employee attraction, retention, happiness, health and productivity; while simultaneously increasing a company’s financial return and reducing overhead costs and employee absenteeism. It just makes sense (and the research proves it)!
If you’re looking for a new career, with a company who believes in flexibility and diversity, then you’re in the right place! Simply register on Abodoo.com, and wait for your dream match.