Most employers have come to recognize the value of a diverse workforce. Hiring a diverse team is only the first … Read more
Does your workplace embrace diverse opinions, preferences and perspectives? Do your front-line supervisors recognize the importance of inclusion in their day-to-day employee management practices?
And are you aware of how unconscious bias can affect everything from hiring the best candidates to fostering effective collaboration to making fair and legal termination decisions?
According to a recent Glassdoor survey, more than 60 percent of U.S. employees have witnessed or experienced workplace discrimination based on age, race, gender or LGBTQ identity. Clearly, more can be done – and needs to be done – to stop this behavior.While preventing illegal discrimination is essential, it’s only a first step. To realize the many benefits of diversity in the workplace, employers must proactively foster inclusion and help employees overcome unconscious bias.
Diversity in the workplace involves employing a wide range of people with significantly different backgrounds, experiences, characteristics and perspectives.
The individual differences that contribute to diversity include those that are legally protected against discrimination under federal, state and local laws – such as age, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, gender and sexual orientation. But the characteristics that contribute to a meaningfully diverse workplace go far beyond what’s legally protected, to include factors such as education levels, languages spoken, marital and family status, and even individual personality traits.
What about inclusion?
Inclusion is the act of deliberately engaging employees from under-represented groups to make sure their opinions and perspectives are heard and considered. Creating a truly inclusive workplace requires genuine acceptance of people’s differences, openness to engaging with coworkers unlike ourselves, and a conscious effort to ensure every employee is treated with respect.
In any discussion about diversity and inclusion, it’s important to consider the impact of unconscious bias.
Unconscious bias is the tendency to make quick judgments or assessments about other people without realizing we’re doing it. We all develop unconscious biases toward other people based on social norms and stereotypes, on information we learn over time, and on personal life experiences. The automatic judgments we make based on these biases can happen so quickly, that we aren’t even aware of them — but the fact is, they can affect our reactions and our behavior in ways that we don’t intend.
There are many types of unconscious bias that can arise in the workplace. For example:
At its worst, unconscious bias can lead to illegal discrimination. For example, a hiring manager may pass up a candidate with an ethnic-sounding name or dismiss an older job candidate because they don’t “fit the culture.”
Even when it doesn’t result in discrimination, unconscious bias can get in the way of effective collaboration and lead to high turnover of employees who do not feel like part of the team.
While it’s obvious that discrimination has no place in any organization, it’s also true that building a deeply diverse, inclusive workplace offers many benefits. Studies consistently show that employers who make deliberate efforts to hire and engage many different types of employees benefit from:
So, what can you do to protect your organization from discriminatory practices and shift toward greater diversity and inclusion? Here are a few key tactics:
Consider auditing all internal processes to identify and correct systemic biases. In addition to job descriptions and screening practices, review your pay, promotion and discipline policies.
To create a more inclusive workplace – and help employees embrace diversity – it’s vital to prioritize training that covers unconscious bias. Diversity & Inclusion at Work: Unconscious Bias Training for Employees is a new, expertly designed training program designed to help employees understand the value of diversity, the importance of respecting differences, and the specific actions they can take to create a more inclusive workplace.
Going far beyond basic definitions and concepts, this self-paced program uses relatable examples, thought-provoking exercises and interactive quizzes to spark personal insights about unconscious biases and illustrate simple but effective steps for overcoming them. Use it to engage employees in a meaningful way to support your diversity and inclusion efforts.
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