Workplace Culture

Could your biases be affecting diversity in the workplace?

June 19, 2020

As current events force questions of bias and inequality to the forefront, it’s critical we take a look within our workplaces and ensure we are doing everything we can to eliminate systemic biases and discrimination, and to encourage diversity and inclusion.

A diverse workforce can bring fresh ideas and new solutions to problems. You may even find new and untapped customer groups as a result. It’s also important to both customers and prospective employees that organizations have values and beliefs that algin with their own.

So what’s getting in the way of a diverse workplace? It could be our biases.

How do biases affect diversity?

Biases affect everyone. Pretending that we are immune to our biases, or that we can completely conquer them, only makes us blind to their effects. Addressing bias requires constant, persistent effort, especially when those biases are unconscious. Unconscious biases can especially influence our decisions and support hiring people who remind us of ourselves but aren’t necessarily best for the job. The best response to biases in decision-making is to identify them and take deliberate steps to mitigate them. For example, taking a training course on managing your unconscious biases can be a great first step.

Why is diversity important to prospective employees?

Recruiting candidates requires having the right benefits and perks to attract top talent. You want to make sure what you offer aligns with what the best candidates are looking for so that you make choosing your organization a no-brainer. How do diversity and biases play a role here? Candidates now more than ever look for the programs and processes your organization has in place when they are considering applying. This includes diversity programs, wellness programs, or financial wellness programs and more.

Why is diversity important to customers?

When people have so many options of where to buy, whom you buy from has become more important. When potential customers are in the researching stage of buying, they are interested in what your company values. There’s a concept called the Golden Circle that explains that customers want to know why you do it first, and what you do last. People want to know their values algin with the values of the company if they are going to spend their money.

What does that mean for your organization? Being up front about how you support diversity or what you do to minimize biases in hiring can actually help customers make their decision. Don’t hide it, share it! And of course, this also goes for enviornmental impact initiatives, mental health support, diversity programs, and other ways you demonstrate corporate social responsibility.

Is diversity important for your workplace?

Diversity in the workplace, including within management teams, can help with productivity, revenue, and even innovation. Forbes reported on a study that found companies with diversity in their management team can see approximately 19% increased revenue.

Many organizations already recognize the value of hiring from historically marginalized groups. As a result, they’ve created diversity programs aimed at creating a supportive culture. Yet some companies may find their diversity programs are not working out the way they had hoped. Focussing on diversity alone may miss the deeper issues of systemic biases if diversity is treated as a means of checking off a requirement or meeting a quota.

What else should I know and what should I do next?

While we often think of diversity in the context of race, it also includes gender, disability, age, experience, background, and so on. Many people have historically struggled because of biases affecting their ability to find jobs or advance in their role. For example, women have long faced biases that limit their ability to get to the top of organizations.

Our members get access to a number of resources that can help when creating diversity plans and supporting diversity in the workplace, such as Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Training, Diversity in the Workplace Policy, and more!

To learn more about creating a diversity plan with inclusion,
read one of our other blog articles: “Making a Difference: Creating a Successful Workplace Diversity Program”

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