Diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias with...Harrumph
June’s been a fascinating month for Lead Happiness Consultant, Dave Keeling. Not only has he been working with a smorgasbord of organisations (both business and educational), he’s even been allowed to leave his house and see real people in real life.
One of the most interesting has been an ongoing consultation with an organisation who shall (for privacy reasons) be henceforth known as ‘Harrumph’.
The challenge Harrumph faced was looking at how diverse and inclusive its workforce and working practices were. There was a feeling that the higher up you went, the less diverse it became.
As a first step, Dave needed background information, including a greater sense of how the workforce viewed the company and its practices. So, some analytics were commissioned, and the results were very interesting for various reasons.
On the face of it, the company did indeed come across as diverse and inclusive, especially in the areas of gender, race and age. But there was also a group of around 30% who appeared to be either unclear, disinterested or not particularly happy with the company’s efforts to be more diverse and inclusive.
This provided an interesting discussion point and catalyst for Dave to run two sessions for people ops and the senior leadership team on unconscious bias.
The session was designed to look at the four main biases in any organisation, which are:
- Affinity bias
- Confirmation bias
- Insider/outsider group dynamics
- Systemic bias
Opportunities for the participants to reflect on their experiences in and around these biases enabled them to look at how greater awareness could lead to more open conversations and positive steps towards changing behaviours.
The 90-minute session also explored:
- The culture web (how stories, rituals, routines and symbols etc. can have an inclusive or exclusive impact)
- Selective discrimination
- Fast and slow thinking
There was even time for a game of Guess Who? SLT were asked about their thoughts and feelings regarding nepotism (from feedback as part of the analytics). There were a range of reactions but all agreed there had been some nepotistic occurrences in filling certain jobs and that, off the back of the analytics, work was being done to be more transparent when it came to vacancies being filled.
It was also agreed that it may take time for people to change their minds about nepotistic behaviour, as it can often leave employees feeling resentful and overlooked. Off the back of these findings, it was agreed that an action-based learning session for people ops and SLT should be set up to further explore the areas of nepotism, stories and diversity in leadership.
It is hoped, then, that actions will be taken in these areas to further embed the positive practices of diversity and inclusion, shifting it from being just an interesting exercise, to a way of working that permeates the very fabric of ‘Harrumph’ as an organisation.
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