Unconscious Bias, Diversity and Inclusiveness: From Awareness to Action
Organisations today are made up of people from multiple generations, cultures, and family circumstances. Within that are a range of world views which may not necessarily reflect the values or vision of a modern organisation. Traditional or previously designed practices and systems may not have paid much attention to ensuring diversity, inclusion and access for all, and may unintentionally, disadvantage certain groups. Indeed, the media is often reporting examples of individual and organisational behaviour and practices which have disrespected the rights and feelings of certain individuals and / or groups .
Modern organisations want to help their people navigate the ever-changing demographics of the work force and wider social norms, using this as a platform to support innovative thinking and habits. Part of this includes the examination of systems, practices and attitudes embedded in their organisations that may inadvertently exclude people or even be discriminatory. Today’s organisations are mindful to
- Provide flexible family friendly options
- Be responsive to the mature older worker
- Encourage and develop the younger worker
- Practice gender inclusiveness and equality
- Create inclusive workplaces that meet the needs of those with disability, cultural practices, religious beliefs, gender and sexual identity
- Build healthy workplaces that take bullying, harassment and stress overload seriously and support mental health and wellness
What is Unconscious Bias
Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it actually makes us human. After all, we couldn’t have survived or evolved without our brain’s capacity to quickly and subconsciously process thousands of pieces of information in the time it takes to blink an eye.
Even when we think through things we assume that we are rational, self-controlled and unemotional.
However, what is becoming clear is that our biases can prevent us from taking in all the relevant information and even weighting up facts disproportionately
Unconscious bias therefore effects our heart, mind and gut. It essentially helps us to take a ‘shortcut’, especially when:
- we are feeling emotional
- there is a need for quick decisions
- and we need to fill in the gaps in the absence of information
At these times we often rely upon our instinctive associations and assumptions which are based on our previous experience and operate in our subconscious.
Is Unconscious Bias harming your organisation?
Unconscious bias can harm organisations in several ways and come at a real cost to the bottom line. In 2018, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion are not only important ethically, they are also vital legal requirements.
Is unconscious bias:
- affecting decision-making, hiring, promotions and growth?
- affecting how employees and customers view the organisation?
- leading to unwanted legal consequences?
- limiting your potential and hurting the bottom line?
Hiring managers and those involved in succession planning may be inadvertently overlooking the best candidates. Diverse viewpoints, ways of thinking, working and problem solving, can be key to organisational success.
Giving everyone a fair opportunity to grow and develop is not only good for individuals, it can give your organisation the kind of advantage needed to thrive in complex environments and diverse markets. Organisations are only as strong as their people. Ensure you manage the impact of unconscious bias on your workplace.
Personal and Professional Benefits
At work, and at home, unconscious bias is something that cannot be avoided. By addressing this effectively at work we can build our individual awareness and contribute to equity, diversity and inclusion for our communities. By understanding unconscious bias and our own blind spots, the principles of this approach can also be applied to a range of situations in everyday life.
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Independent research has verified that this recognition is highly valued by your employees.