image Unlocking your business’ unconscious bias.
Created by helen on 7/23/2020 10:41:45 AM

Throughout the last few months we have been witnessing a powerful increase in awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s gathered momentum as we’ve witnessed some shockingly blatant acts of racism which have opened all of our eyes to the more covert racism all around us, such as the significance of statues of openly racist historical figures in our own country. On top of this, we have seen staggeringly high COVID-19 death rates amongst the BAME (Black, Asian, Minority ethnic) population, thought to rise from deep rooted health inequalities, housing conditions, pubic facing occupations and structural racism.

In a workplace context, we ALL need to start questioning our unconscious discrimination, our working practises and culture. It’s not solely a political issue, but one that needs to transcend into every level of our consciousness, it’s about humanity, and everyone’s right to live without fear of discrimination be it colour of skin, age, faith, disability or gender.

I always feel that no matter how politically correct we think we are, we cannot deny we all hold prejudice in some shape or form. It’s what makes us all unique and doesn’t necessarily come from a bad place. Often it comes from ignorance of a type of person or a situation we don’t know or understand. We each hold our own belief systems, born of our own individual life experiences; where we grew up, the jobs our parents had, the people we went to school with, not to mention specific life events.

Wherever it comes from, we have a responsibility to challenge it by resetting our values and prejudices by working on our self-awareness. We need to challenge our perceptions, thinking about where the feelings of uncertainty about a particular person might come from, and monitoring our reaction so it’s fair and not led by our own fear, ignorance or emotion.

What this means within the workplace context is that we need to challenge how we think at every level, from how we recruit, to our workplace culture and working practices.

A large part of this is about creating a safe environment. Not just one that is politically correct but one that embraces differences. When tackling this in my role as an HR Consultant, I firmly believe that knowledge is power and the more we can open up the lines of communication with the team and educate, the better the result and the more likely the lines between differences are to recede.

 It could be as simple as improving company-wide communications, ensuring an open and inclusive culture. It could be about running diversity workshops, which have been proven to help people understand what life is like for minority groups and not be afraid they will say the wrong thing or feel threatened by it. Or, it could be about tackling historic racism, which sees minority groups less likely to come forward to talk about concerns, by making sure that management build a trusting relationship with individuals so people in any group feel they can talk about their desire for change or promotion.

The second biggest thing I usually overhaul with clients is recruitment. It’s a simple intervention which, with a few changes, can turn a business’s unconscious bias around. It’s not about fulfilling quotas but recognising that there is power in equality and that a well-represented and diverse business usually means growth!

You won’t always have a perfectly balanced blend of all groups of the population, but you SHOULD always strive to have a fair representation of your local population, and you should ALWAYS hire the best person for the job.

  • Think about the language you use in job adverts, remove aggressive tones that may alienate certain groups.
  • Always have two people as part of the recruitment process. The first person should receive the CV’s and anonymise them. Passing them to the second person only when there is no DOB, no sexual identity, no address and not even names. Stick to candidate 1,2 and 3.
  • The second person will only be able to choose who to interview based on merit, qualifications and experience.
  •  If there’s an application form, you can simplify the process by having personal details on one sheet and all qualifications and experience on the other.
  • In an interview have a predetermined list of questions. Stick to it, so it’s easy to judge in an unbiased way and there is a fair score at the end.
  • When it comes to choosing the personality fit for the team, consider using outside tools such as empathy profiling or personality profiling so there is no bias. Empathy Styles is one I often recommend.
  • At every step of the process challenge yourself by considering if your opinion about a person is based on their ability or your prejudice.

If you want to learn more about the recruitment process, I am holding a RECRUITMENT 101 webinar on the 20 August 2020 at 11am. We will be covering more about delivering a fair and unbiased recruitment process and how to tackle it.  Sign up now.

If you need more information about discrimination law or any of the issues covered, do pick up the phone, I am always happy to help or you can look at the ACAS website where you’ll find a wealth of information, explanations and up to date information on the law.

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