We are all biased, and before you disagree, let me assure you, it’s not your fault, or mine, it’s simply how we are programmed. Every moment of every day, we are bombarded by around 11 million pieces of information. Unfortunately, our brains can only process about 40 bits of information at a time, so it therefore creates shortcuts, and relies on past knowledge or ‘assumptions’ to fill in the blanks.
Over the past few years, ‘Corporate Ireland’ have slowly started to recognise the need for unconscious bias awareness training, and now in 2017, it has hit fever pitch. Every CEO, MD, Partner and HR Director are clamouring to come up with an effective Diversity and Inclusion programme to match the increasingly diverse teams around them. Diversity and Inclusion committees are being formed at lightening speed, and are springing into action organising monthly events to celebrate the diversity of their teams.
So, why the sudden interest in unconscious bias training and awareness?
It’s no longer just ‘nice to have’ this type of training in your organisation, it’s a necessity, in response to the multicultural and heterogeneous workplaces we are all part of in 2017.
Unconscious bias, if left unchecked, can turn into discrimination, resulting in an unhappy and unproductive working environment. You can prevent this, by making sure that every member of the team is aware of common biases and their disastrous impact, particularly regarding the important decision making process.
So, how can unconscious bias training benefit your organisation, from a ‘bottom line’ point of view? Businesses who embrace and promote diversity within the workplace are shown to have:
Employees who are more versatile and flexible, particularly in the area of problem solving and perspective. Researchers have found that teams, made up of employees from different backgrounds, provided a much broader outlook and a varied amount of answers to problems.
Increased employee innovation. A Forbes insight study recognised diversity and inclusion as a key driver of internal innovation and business growth.
Happy customers. Employees from different cultures and backgrounds bring a wider range of skills and knowledge, which helps to identify and meet the needs of your multinational customers.
Greater employee retention and a smoother recruitment process. Embracing candidates from a variety of backgrounds and cultures increases your chances of hiring the best candidates from the jobs market. Your existing employees will show loyalty to your organisation if they feel their diverse needs are understood and recognised.
Remember, everyone has subconscious biases, its only human, but its how you react, and the decisions you make with your newfound awareness that will determine the outcome in your organisation.
Is your organisation ready for unconscious bias training?