In today’s political and cultural climate, diversity training and inclusion are more important than ever. Now is the time to build an equitable and inclusive workplace. You can do it by learning about the concept of unconscious bias, as well as some solutions to eliminate it in your office. To help you run better cultural diversity training programs, we’ve shared information on three major topics: An overview of diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias, then an examination into how these topics affect the workplace. Lastly, we provide some suggestions for how to accelerate these effects and create a more equitable office.
Basic Concepts of Diversity Training in the Workplace
Let’s begin with an overview of the concepts of diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias. Using various sources, including work by Brené Brown and Jerry Kang, we can define diversity and inclusion. Diversity is the richness of differences among people, including race, gender, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical abilities, and more. Inclusion training should help your company embrace these differences, treating everyone with fairness and respect.
Every workplace should focus on equity rather than equality. Equality assumes that everyone comes from the same background and needs all the same resources, etc to succeed. Equity-oriented workplaces are inclusive and aware of diversity. They recognize that employees come from many different backgrounds and they provide all the tools, resources and support so everyone can succeed.
This all leads us into bias. A bias is a prejudice in favor or against a person or group, especially as compared with another. It can be related to social group, age, race, gender identity, physical abilities, or even things like height or weight. Unconscious bias is particularly harmful because it’s much more prevalent than conscious bias. Often, people’s unconscious biases are even contrary to the values they say that they hold. Unconscious biases usually come from vicarious experiences: media, culture, other people’s stories, etc. There are at least 175 biases that diversity training in the workplace can fight including ageism, sexism, racism, affinity bias, and more.
Why Do We Need Diversity Training in the Workplace?
When we make decisions in the office, we may let unconscious biases affect them, hurting employees, the culture, work product– even the company’s bottom line. One example is mentoring. We too often pick people like ourselves to mentor. This leaves others at a severe disadvantage. We also might socialize and network only with certain people. We might only hire candidates based on our unconscious biases. Workplace culture can be hampered by unconscious biases, which mean people will be less engaged with the company and their job. They may be less productive– or even leave.
Problem-solving and innovation will also suffer when employees feel oppressed by microagressions or an unwelcome environment. It’s also worth noting that embracing diversity and inclusivity in your company is good for business. But it’s also good for humanity. Work is often the place we encounter the least homogenous mix of acquaintances. We can help change the world for the better as we run our diversity training programs.
Strategies for Diversity Training in the Workplace
With all of this information about diversity and inclusion, you’re ready to fight unconscious bias in your workplace. Firstly, ensure that you have buy-in from upper management. The next tip is to make it known that leadership wants to hear from employees. Do they feel discriminated against, have ideas for how to make a more equitable workplace, or other feedback? Another tip is to be proactive when you see unconscious bias at work. Speak up on the spot. It’s also recommended for employees to mentor and network with people that they may not have considered before.
One important step you can take is to review your HR policies. Update grooming and appearance policies that might be discriminatory. Update protected classes to include LGBTQ employees and other classes. Look for any other harmful policies. When it comes to talent acquisition, provide your recruiters with diversity and inclusion training. Use a blind hiring process. To retain talent, consider creating affinity groups or employer recognized groups for employees who share a particular diversity dimension. Run events to celebrate cultural differences. (Check out Action for Diversity Inclusion’s website for more ideas.) On a personal level, practice empathy. Listen to coworkers and employees. Learn about their experiences and stories. Lastly, do all of this regularly. Changing your perspective is a daily habit.
Want to learn more about unconscious bias? Download the webinar recording here.
Ready to keep improving your company culture? Don’t miss part 2 in the Diversity & Inclusion series: Uncomfortable Conversations Discussing Race in the Workplace on June 25th at 1:00 PM. Register here.
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