introverted people

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[#WorkTrends] How to Harness the Workplace Power of Introverted People

Many of us might not know that Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and also Elon Musk consider themselves introverts. Like many other introverted people, they have capitalized on their ability to listen well, stay objective, and find the answers in chaos.

Given their unprecedented success, why wouldn’t we want to harness the power and potential of introverts in our workforce?

Our Guest: Jennifer Kahnweiler, Ph.D. Author and Speaker

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D., is one of the top global leadership speakers on introversion and is the author of a new book: Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces: How to Unleash Everyone’s Talent and Performance. Who better to talk about unleashing the power and potential of introverted people in the workplace, right? 

First, I asked Jennifer what drew her to this unique workplace topic:

“I worked in a lot of positions in HR and leadership development and coaching,” Jennifer explained. “And it became a consistent theme that introverts were frustrated; they often felt overlooked and ignored. Everything was designed for the people who were the talkers — the loudest voice in the room. Since the diversity and inclusion conversation is so prevalent right now, I was surprised I couldn’t find anything on introverted people in the workplace. So I became almost a zealot about this!”

We’re glad she did. Now more than ever, with increasing dependency on remote work, many people who identify as introverts are making their mark in the workplace.

The Workplace Power of Introverted People

After explaining that introverts re-energize by taking quiet time — time that allows creativity to flow, innovative thoughts to development, and also deep reflection — Jennifer jumped into how to harness the power of introverted people:

“We must be more intentional about our hiring and culture practices. When we talk about HR, in particular, we have to ask ourselves: Are we including introverts in our planning and execution? Are they part of our diversity and inclusion plan? That must happen more. That’s when we change cultures; that’s when entire organizations change.”

“It’s not just a nice to have,” Jennifer said. “Because if we only listen to the loudest people in the room, half the voices and ideas aren’t being heard.”

As our conversation progressed, Jennifer and I also talked about her key findings while researching introverts in the workplace, how introverts are adapting to remote work (including those endless Zoom meetings), and much more. Please enjoy this episode of the #WorkTrends podcast. Then take a close look at how your organization integrates and respects people on both ends of the introversion-extraversion spectrum. 

 

Find Jennifer on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve redesigned our and #WorkTrends Podcast pages (and also our FAQ page) to help you be more productive. Please take a look!

 

embracing neurodiversity

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Embracing Neurodiversity: The Future of Talent Management [Podcast]

We’ve recently come to understand how diversity affects us all — in society and the workplace. But there are forms of diversity we don’t talk about enough; specifically, we need to start embracing neurodiversity.

If your workplace is like most, you likely have a whole range of different thinking styles on your teams. But too often, they’re not all recognized — let alone appreciated or accommodated.

On #WorkTrends Conversations: Ed Thompson, CEO & Founder of Uptimize

In this episode of our podcast, Ed Thompson, the CEO and Founder of Uptimize, joined us to discuss the importance of recognizing — and then embracing — neurodiversity in the workforce. I’ve often said we need to revise our approach to welcoming and appreciating neurodiversity in the workplace — just as important, we need to see it as the incredible workplace advantage it is. Ed, after telling us that neurodiversity is simply “the natural diversity of human brain wiring” and “that everybody process information differently,” agrees:

“This is a sizable demographic; some people say one in 10 people might be neuro-distinct in some way. Some even say one in five. So we must recognize the strengths neuro-distinct people can bring to the workplace. We also must recognize that many of the challenges that neuro-distinct people can face in the workplace are the result of people, processes, and environments that simply aren’t inclusive.”

Ed added: “This has always been a fact of human collaboration. It’s just that until now, we humans have done a poor job of recognizing that. Nor have we taken steps to leverage neurodiversity.”

A Practical Approach to Embracing Neurodiversity

I asked Ed how we best approach neurodiversity in the workplace and talent management. His answer was enlightening:

“The key point here is all workplaces are already neurodiverse. Any manager already leads a team whose members have different preferences in how they communicate, problem-solve, and so on. Some prefer communicating in person; others prefer Slack or Zoom.” After reminding us that these preferences are an example of people being neuro-distinct, Ed suggests: “A significant number of people are neuro-distinct, regardless of whether they’ve chosen to disclose.”

“So neurodiversity isn’t a thing we need to add to our DEI efforts; it’s something we already have.” 

In this episode, Ed went on to tell us how to recognize how people might be neuro-distinct, how to optimize their productivity, and what employers can do to serve everybody well — from those with distinct communication and learning preferences and needs to those who identify as autistic. In other words, he shared with us everything we need to do to start recognizing and appreciating this form of diversity in the workplace.

My discussion with Ed was everything a #WorkTrends Conversations podcast is supposed to be: informative, informal, and insightful. Please listen to the entire episode, and then ask yourself: 

Is my company embracing neurodiversity? Or can we do better?

Download a Free eBook from Uptimize

We can all do better, of course. Which is why we encourage you to download your free copy of Introduction to Neurodiversity at Work: Embracing Diversity of Thought as a Talent Strategy by the sponsor of this podcast, Uptimize.  In this e-book, you’ll learn how neurodiversity programs drive business results, five key tips that will help you create and execute a successful neurodiversity program, and much more.

 

Find Ed Thompson on LinkedIn. And for webinar updates and more, be sure to follow Uptimize.

 

Editor’s note: Our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages are all new! Please take a look.

 

DEI Efforts

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How the Remote Work Era Impacts Your 2021 DEI Efforts

How will the remote work era impact your 2021 DEI efforts? How will you keep the promises made around diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Before remote work became so prevalent, it was possible to keep real-world events and conversations out of the workplace. Now that’s not only impossible; it’s also increasingly inadvisable. Events in your employees’ personal lives undoubtedly affect the workplace—not only on a personal performance level, but also on a company culture level. Add in ongoing issues of racial inequality and police brutality and the expectation is clear…

Companies must increase DEI efforts in 2021.

Whether employees are having discussions about racism or simply the challenges of living through the pandemic, personal conversations happen – and will continue to happen with increasing frequency. To make sure companies handle these conversations in a productive, positive manner, it’s essential to consider developing a DEI strategy alongside their corporate strategy. The inevitable result is culture-improving programs that promote and champion the business benefits and value of a diverse workforce.

The time is now to tangibly make good on the promises companies have made over the years to increase their focus on DEI.

Here are some actions I expect companies will begin to take in 2021 to fulfill these promises.

Revamp Hiring Practices

One of the first places companies will analyze to improve DEI in their workforce is their talent pool. But merely wanting to hire more diverse team members doesn’t mean you’ll receive diverse applicants.

To increase the diversity of their talent pools, companies will revisit their hiring practices. Providing training programs and resources for hiring teams and reviewing job descriptions to remove non-inclusive terminology and unnecessary requirements is a start. So is expanding from a primarily referral-based recruitment pipeline to a pipeline full of diverse recruiting events and job boards across the country. These are examples of the steps companies will take to be more accessible and welcoming to a diverse array of candidates.

After successful remote work experiments in 2020, I expect we’ll see many companies expand the number of remote roles available, enabling them to drastically expand their talent pool. Of course, the organizational culture will also need to evolve in order to retain a more diverse workforce.

Actively Provide Ongoing DEI Resources 

Instead of having one-off discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion in response to separate incidences, workplaces will begin making DEI discussions a part of their regular culture. For some, this will mean creating support and learning groups that provide safe spaces to talk about issues. The support methods might include facilitated discussions, anti-racist books, podcasts, articles, videos, and other materials.

Companies will also begin to create dedicated DEI teams to lead the strategy and implementation of all DEI initiatives. These dedicated teams will focus on diversity training, affinity groups, recruitment, promotion, external partnerships, supplier diversity, and more.

Deliberately Become Anti-racist Organizations

Even with a diverse workforce, a company can still have a racist culture. To prevent this, companies must create and enforce actionable anti-racist policies and practices. To show this is a high priority, a temporary shift in focus away from short-term revenue goals may be necessary.

From required training and programs addressing implicit bias, microaggressions, and more to dedicated employee taskforces, this step will require strategic engagement from leadership to get it right – and enact change from the top-down. Companies should also consider implementing Crossroad Ministry’s diversity training. This program provides detailed steps to help your company move from a monocultural organization to an anti-racist, multicultural organization.

Address DEI in their Products and Services

No workplace can be anti-racist if it doesn’t also extend its DEI efforts to the products and services it provides. Companies truly committed to undertaking DEI strategy will thoroughly assess how they plan and craft their products and services. Along the way, they must note DEI-related gaps and oversights that could help their offerings appeal to their target markets.

I’m Chief Inclusion Officer of an education technology company that serves more than 10 million students and educators. In my role, this aspect of inclusion is especially important to me. One of my primary duties is to ensure our products foster an inclusive and supportive learning environment for students of all races and backgrounds. While it’s an ongoing process, I’m proud to say we’re making a difference in students’ lives. We’re also helping our educator partners create an equitable learning experience for all of their students.

2020 brought about many challenges – and we’re all happy it’s over. But it also helped usher in some positive changes. I expect 2021 will begin to see those transformations more fully realized in the area of DEI. And I look forward to seeing the long-lasting changes companies implement as they become more inclusive, equitable workplaces.

2021 work trends

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Futurecasting: 7 World of Work Trends We’ll See in 2021

Futurecasting is sometimes akin to looking into the sky and trying to connect the stars. As we look ahead to the future this time, though, we know the direction we’re going. We know where the prominent work trends are taking us.

The pressures and complexities of 2020 and the pandemic forced an awakening. The innovation developed, creativity demonstrated, and momentum generated since that global reckoning has been so strong, there’s no turning around now; we’ll never go back to the way it was. So the tools and strategies we’ve leaned on throughout the pandemic will continue to redefine how we work in 2021.

With that in mind, here are seven key work trends that will continue to make their mark this coming year…

1. Remote Working

As an option, a necessity, a perk, and an official policy, remote working is here to stay. It’s a classic example of “if you build it, they will come.” And the many employees (and their managers) who have now experienced the ability to function remotely and now know the advantages remote work brings won’t want to go back.

As companies scale back on real estate spends (sorry realtors), remote working is a way to maintain a large workforce on a tighter budget. So we’ll see countless organizations following the path of big tech firms who have pledged to keep their employees remote for the time being — if, of course, they can accomplish the job and responsibilities without the need for a shared physical workspace. Once again, big tech is leading the way and disrupting the status quo. Only this time, it’s not transformative leadership creating the change; it’s the technology itself.

2. New Hires, New Experiences

For new hires (and particularly for Generation Z), that traditional rite of passage of joining a workplace and learning a whole new set of behavioral and social norms isn’t going to be as prevalent. This wholly digital generation has already changed the way we experience technology. Now, they’ll help us usher in a whole new way to enter the workplace. Soon, we’ll come to know this new wave of hires as the “remote generation” (or “hybrid generation”).

The brand-new job experience will not have the same impact as it did past generations. We don’t yet know how younger hires will feel about the value of that experience or workplace culture. But we will — and soon. The difference here: The 2021 work culture will be digital in nature. So the experience will not be as sharp a contrast as going from the classroom to the world of work.

3. Video Conferencing

Video conferencing has become the de facto way we meet. It has become so ubiquitous in the workplace that “to Zoom” is now a verb.

Zoom may have been the frontrunner. But there are plenty of existing competitors and new visual collaboration platforms that will help how we work together evolve. After all, this is a very hot aspect of HR technology and will undoubtedly continue to be one of the most dominant work trends.  So I predict increasing capabilities to communicate just as effectively over mobile as we once did face-to-face. I also see better ways to archive and transcribe our video-based conversations and more ways to extend the work done via videoconference to teams and stakeholders.

4. Upskilling

In 2021, we will see a big shift from hiring being the primary driver of increasing an organization’s capabilities to upskilling existing talent. Organizations that had to tighten their hiring budgets after sustained buffeting from 2020 and the pandemic will shift resources into training and development. Those that did just fine despite economic turbulence — in industries that actually grew during 2020 — will be adding a robust reskilling and upskilling program to their HR strategy.

The bottom line for everyone is that institutional knowledge is critical for maintaining continuity and weathering a crisis. Upskilling existing employees will become known as a smart way to hold onto that intelligence while evolving skills to meet new challenges. Upskilling will become a business imperative.

5. Mental Health

Without question, our mental health has become an enormous issue. A recent report by Monster revealed a whopping 69% of employees working from home experience severe burnout. It’s not that working from home is particularly hard on everyone by itself. But the rush to remote without an underlying culture and infrastructure — and without an end-game being defined — has caused some stress.

Because one of the key triggers of burnout is mistreatment by supervisors and managers, we’re learning about the importance of setting boundaries and doing frequent check-ins. Many of us are also making sure our people have access to the mental health benefits they need. To help us continue this critical work trend, we’ll soon see even more apps that help with emotional and mental well-being (such as a meditation app and a mindfulness training tool). And we’ll see more forward-thinking companies providing these practical and widely-available tools as part of their overall well-being programs.

6. Inclusive Cultures

Diversity is critical to every aspect of the workplace — and organizations need to do better. So we’ll see a lot more leaders focusing on how to improve a sense of belonging in their organizations, as well as some authentic soul-searching as we dive into legacies such as systemic racism.

Our timing couldn’t be better. Currently, 70% of job seekers in a survey by the Manifest say they consider a company’s commitment to diversity when evaluating them as a prospective employer. But diversity in terms of hiring and promotions is only one part of the equation. Companies must pay attention to their work cultures, gauge how truly inclusive they are now, and then work to close the gap between what is and what should be. This is perhaps the mother of all work trends and will play a critical role next year. Because in 2021, organizations are not going to be able to get away with a performative statement or symbolic gestures. If you truly believe in equality — if you genuinely believe black lives matter, for example — you’re going to have to show it.

7. Empathetic People Management

Let me add a few words to the phrase above: “empathetic people management… for the right reasons.”

The pre-pandemic talent crunch triggered many reflective moments around how to better conduct HR and talent management. The goal for many companies is to be perceived as a better employer brand and to successfully engage and retain your people. That’s all well and good. But we’re not in a talent crunch right now.

Yet between February and October 2020, some 2.2 million women in the U.S. left their jobs. Overwhelmed, undersupported, and stressed out, many women — particularly working mothers — reached a tipping point and gave up. That’s an incredible talent drain. When they come back to work, they’re going to look for companies that set up the structures that truly support their people through empathetic people management for all the right reasons.

Looking Ahead to 2021

2020’s silver lining is that we’d been stubbornly dancing around what was truly important in the workplace — and to the workforce. We were forced to reckon with real-time discoveries in an authentic way. So we now know exactly what lies between us and where we want to go. We’ll bring that wisdom, and these work trends, to 2021.

This welcome knowledge, together with knowing we have better tools and a clearer vision of what must come next than we’ve ever had before, brings me to my final bit of futurecasting…

2021 will be the year HR once again finds its soul. 

In 2021 and beyond, we will take better care of our people — and each other.

 

workforce diversity

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The ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of Building Workforce Diversity

The evidence overwhelmingly supports the business case for workforce diversity. So why are companies still failing to achieve their diversity goals?

Diversity has become a higher priority on the corporate agenda. Simultaneously, the business case for workforce diversity is now well evidenced (especially by McKinsey & Company, where analysts have been tracking the performance of more diverse companies for years). And yet, many organizations still struggle with ‘why’ diversity programs fail and the ‘how’ of doing diversity well.

Perhaps outreach programs are successful, but few candidates make it to the final selection stage? Perhaps diverse early career talent is easier to onboard, but fewer diverse candidates progress into senior leadership? In our work, we often find organizations undermine their own efforts. Quite often, through the use of a flawed recruitment and assessment process.

Biased decision making can creep into any stage of the hiring or development process, creating a disadvantage for minority groups. In other cases, inadvertent use of tactics that offer an advantage to those with access to exclusive knowledge or education occurs. These tactics perpetuate a cycle that maintains the status quo and prevents diversity from flourishing.

At Sova, we’ve long championed fairness and equality in recruitment and career progression. As occupational psychologists, one of our main goals in designing assessment is to provide a truly objective view of a candidate. We see it as our role to help companies go beyond the CV to make better, unbiased, and fair decisions about talent.

‘Why’ the Selection Process Goes Wrong

Before we talk about how we can improve diversity through fair selection processes, it’s useful to highlight some of the areas where we see diversity fail. These failures happen even when recruitment and HR teams invest in better diversity through actions such as targeted advertising, tailored marketing materials, and broader outreach programs:

  • The interview process starts with killer questions, such as asking which university the candidate attended, which is unfair when the candidate relies on knowledge or experience that isn’t available to all.
  • Too much emphasis on the CV screen effectively defines people through past achievements rather than their future potential.
  • Reliance on academic achievement, often linked to educational opportunity, makes those from more disadvantaged backgrounds less likely to be considered.
  • A reliance on unstructured interviews has been shown by extensive research to typically be much less predictive than either structured interviews or other more objective assessment measures.
  • Traditional assessments, such as a series of verbal and numerical reasoning tests, act as a hurdle race, potentially excluding otherwise suitable candidates.
  • Poorly designed assessments that lack scientific rigor bring a degree of embedded bias; some rely on exclusive knowledge of lifestyle habits or culture.
  • Assessors at assessment centers who are not well trained in managing unconscious bias impact fair selection; so does the center’s content when it favors particular groups.
  • We often fail to collect the right data; that data must be readily available and frequently reviewed.

‘How’ to Improve Workforce Diversity During Recruitment

Here are five practical changes that improve hiring processes and facilitate fairer decision making:

1. Consider carefully and thoughtfully what “good” looks like for your organization.

The definition of good needs to be through a wide lens and with the scope of diversity in mind. Rather than addressing one aspect, think about what diverse talent means as a whole. Consider how you describe what you look for in a candidate. Ask if your description might be perceived as exclusive when framed without thought to diversity. For example, have a broad range of people provide feedback on a job description and posting.

2. In designing your process, think about which techniques are fairest.

Have an inclusive approach to design. Gather insight into how others interpret your process design. Questions and assessment content need to be objective and not discriminate based on access to specific knowledge exclusive to some. Having input into the design from a diverse group is also essential, so gather different viewpoints on the assessment.

3. Thoroughly monitor the success of your assessment process.

Take the time and care to measure easier to acquire metrics such as gender. Also, gather data over the longer term – for example, who gets promoted. To see the whole picture, keep sight of all the assessments in your process and across all groups. Link to this data routinely and review it in real-time, not only on an annual basis.

4. Use analytics to learn which parts of your journey – or which questions and content – are working fairly and which are not.

Layout the parts of your process shown to be generating unfair responses. Then consider whether to change them or remove them. For example, are certain questions excluding those qualified applicants without a university education? Or are you excluding candidates based on language or numeracy skills not applicable to that specific job?

Once you’ve built the business case for diversity, the next step is to practically put in place a new process that will result in fairer outcomes. Diversity strategy guides the organization, of course. But without practical application at every stage of recruitment, assessment, and development, organizations will struggle to truly make a difference in their workforce diversity.

To learn more about leveling the playing field through fair assessment in hiring and development, you can download Sova’s free white paper: Leveling the Playing Field.

 

This post sponsored by Sova Assessment.

 

jpb descriptions hidden bias

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Job Descriptions: How to Eliminate the Hidden Bias Within

In an era where more people than ever are fighting for social justice, why do job descriptions still contain hidden bias? And what is the impact of bias – intentional or not.

In a typical job description, there are enough typos and grammar mistakes to make you wonder if proof-reading ever happened. There are often too many formatting issues to count. And then there are those baffling internal acronyms. (If you knew those, you’d already work there!) In the end, it’s next to impossible to determine what a person in that role does and why they do it – let alone ascertain if you’re qualified for the position. Frustrating!

And yet there is an even bigger problem with far too many job descriptions: Hidden bias.

The Effort to Decrease Bias and Increase Diversity

We all have our personal preferences. You might like crunchy peanut butter, while your best friend might prefer creamy. However, when it comes to hiring practices, there’s no place for personal preferences. The official hiring policies of any company must be impartial, as stated in anti-discrimination legislation outlined by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Still, even in well-regarded organizations, unconscious bias exists. Many take steps to combat these all-too-human impulses. They work hard to make their hiring practices more egalitarian. Despite the best of intentions, however, these efforts are often less than successful. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, most workplace diversity programs aren’t actually increasing diversity. Consider that among all US companies with 100 or more employees:

  • From 1985 to 2014, the proportion of black men in management increased just slightly from 3% to 3.3%
  • From 1985 to 2000, white women in management roles rose from 22% to 29% but haven’t budged past that 29% figure since the turn of the century

Why haven’t we made more progress? As Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev stated in HBR: “Despite a few new bells and whistles, courtesy of big data, companies are basically doubling down on the same approaches they’ve used since the 1960s—which often make things worse, not better.”

Gender Bias: An Obvious Culprit

Research has shown that one of the biggest areas of failure in job description bias is gender-based. In fact, one research paper published by social scientists from the University of Waterloo and Duke University stated gendered language in job descriptions remains prevalent.

The study found that job descriptions for positions traditionally associated with men use language that may unconsciously deter women from applying for these positions. Researchers also discovered that job descriptions biased towards men often include language more associated with being proactive and taking charge of the situation. With traditional societal roles associating men with action and empowerment more than women, female applicants opt out of applying. “Often these women take more submissive – or at least more historically female roles, like nurses, kindergarten teachers and administrative assistants.

The conclusion: In job descriptions, the use of male-associated pronouns like “his” – rather than the female-associated “her” or the more gender-neutral “the person” – significantly impacts who applies for each position. Even worse, those gender-specific pronouns have a profound effect on who gets hired.

Bias Hiding in Plain Sight

At this point, it may be clear the language used in job descriptions is very much influenced by the bias of the person writing the job descriptions. Sometimes these biases are unconscious, such as in the case of culturally-reinforced gender roles. However, sometimes bias in job descriptions is more conscious. This happens most often when a hiring manager is actively looking to subtly discourage certain classes of applicants even while adhering to corporate diversity policies and EEOC regulations. For example:

“For this role, we’re looking for a strong, ‘All-American boy’ type. Must be well-mannered, well-groomed, well-spoken and respectful to the customers.”

Do you hear the bias? This hiring manager is most likely looking for a young, able-bodied, white, heterosexual, well-educated male that most likely comes from an affluent family. And yet the hiring manager deftly avoided including any of those demographics in the job description.

This hiring manager may be sneaky-good at getting around policies and laws. But his bias is hiding in plain sight.

Fixing the Problem

In the above example, the job description followed the letter of the law. Technically, the hiring manager did nothing wrong. And yet, the wrong isn’t only present – it is blatant. This raises the question of whether or not fixing the problem of biased language in job descriptions is practical, perhaps even possible. And yet the problem is being attacked on many fronts.

The Harvard Business Review published an article by cognitive scientist Frida Polli to address both conscious and unconscious hiring bias. In the article, Ms. Polli claimed using artificial intelligence might be one way to solve the problem of bias. The reality is, though, this solution is dependent on so many factors – including AI’s ability to learn bias through practical experience – that it can’t be considered the best possible answer at the moment.

The human approach, at least so far, hasn’t fared much better. Lobbying efforts designed to create systemic change in corporate policies that would eliminate biased language in job descriptions has become a Sisyphean effort. Again, despite the best of intentions, there is no social proof that “diversity training” – mandated or not – is especially effective.

So is there a solution? Must we continue to tolerate job descriptions beset with biases that read one way but mean something completely different?

Worth Doing Right

No, we don’t. We Human Resources professionals can fix this.

Why us? First, let’s understand there is no group of job seekers powerful enough to change this dynamic. That means the responsibility falls on us. And as the old saying goes: “If anything’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

So what does “doing it right” mean? In three steps:

  1. We must learn how to discover, decipher and translate biased job descriptions; sharing our knowledge enables us to stop even unintentional bias from appearing on our websites, our chosen job boards, or anywhere else.
  2. We must leverage our collective knowledge of the corporate doublespeak which hiring managers use to discourage certain types of applicants; together, we must become not just the job description police, we must become the judge and jury.
  3. Before we can begin to eliminate bias within our own companies, we must secure unwavering top-down support from the C-suite; we simply can’t accept all the responsibility without having any authority.

But we’re not done yet. To create and sustain a company culture free of bias – intentional or not – we must drag the offending job descriptions into the conscience of our company. We must deliberately yet respectfully draw attention to these unethical practices and the damage and hurt caused by biased language. If we don’t, we’ll always be fixing what’s wrong instead of doing what we know is right.

The Last Word

Poorly written job descriptions are more than just a frustrating nuisance to job seekers; they often serve as home to hidden bias. They are social proof of an unhealthy company culture. Even worse, they are indicative of systemic injustice that impacts the lives and careers of women, the disabled, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and specific religions or nationalities.

We in HR know better. Together, we can do better.

 

Diversity and Inclusivity

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon

Promoting Diversity and Maintaining an Inclusive Culture

As the spotlight has brightened on racism. In response to recent miscarriages of justice, the emphasis on identifying racism within other aspects of life has also grown. As business leaders, it is vital to stand with the advocacy for change. Although oftentimes difficult, encouraging honest discussions around diversity and inclusivity in the workplace is crucial. 

For many, this conversation is not new. Dated ideologies and racist operations have influenced hiring practices regularly. Those out-of-date paradigms have also permitted a single race and gender to employ higher positions for decades. According to Fortune, high-ranking officials within 16 of the Fortune 500 companies are 80% men, and 72% of those men are white. In order to break this flawed mold and implement diversity, much work has to be done by industry leaders. 

The Advantages of Promoting Diversity and Inclusivity

Fostering a diverse and inclusive organization has many benefits such as increased profit, impressive talent acquisition, as well as the strengthening of employee bonds. Yes, conversations surrounding diversity and inclusivity can be difficult. However, this is the opportune time for leaders to disrupt archaic norms. And it is the perfect time to implement hiring practices that seek out brilliant talent from every background. 

So, what can business owners and leaders do to promote diversity and maintain an inclusive culture? With these advantages below, leaders across any industry can recognize the essential nature of workplace diversity. 

Financial Gain 

From a business standpoint, racial diversity in the workplace isn’t merely a perk. In fact, diversity is a necessity for competitiveness in corporate America. Not only do inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time, but many consumers actively seek out organizations with diverse decision-makers. Additionally, these brands can also build stronger audience connections. 

Further, it is no secret that marketing a business can be difficult. However, inclusive marketing can be a different beast altogether. Within marketing, there is a heavy lack of cultural intelligence from brands, and this void can result in minimized profits as some audiences won’t purchase from you due to a lack of acknowledgment. Campaigns without cultural intelligence run the risk of coming off as tone-deaf or insensitive. They perhaps then result in public outcry, concluding in a company apology with a promise to “do better.” 

By investing in employees with different perspectives, lived experiences, and understandings of diverse markets, you can promote your business from several unique standpoints and gain a competitive edge. This allows a separation from competitors, and perhaps engagement from consumers outside of initial target audiences. Subsequently, you can net greater profits, while exhibiting your care for people of different races, genders, ages, sexualities, and identities. 

Expanded Talent Pool 

 For most leaders in the highly competitive business world, acquiring the best talent is priority. Exclusively employing talent of a particular ethnicity, age, or gender minimizes the talent pool you can choose from. With that said, having an organization run by one race or gender can only reflect narrow perspectives. That scenario, perhaps inadvertently, also demonstrates to the public that you don’t recognize a necessity for diverse opinions.

Hiring with cultural diversity in mind — which encapsulates race, culture, age, religion, sexuality, and gender identity — expands your talent pool. This expansion permits your organization to solely focus on what candidates can bring to the table such as: skill sets, experience, and creativity. By eradicating those subconsciously biased candidate limitations, you can prioritize and encourage mind-expansion and exploration for your company. This can equate to bigger, brighter innovations that may not have been otherwise explored. This eradication also improves your brand’s attractiveness and invites new consumers. 

As your organization flourishes due to new minds with intersectional inputs, your brand has the opportunity to convey a modern attractiveness that invites more talent acquisition, fortuitous business opportunities and more financially prosperous avenues. 

Better Engagement and Satisfaction 

As one can probably imagine, being a “token” person of color in the workplace isn’t fun. When employees work amongst others who look like them or share lived experiences, a workplace confidence is bred, thus inspiring collaboration, innovation and creativity to take place. 

Employees need their ideas, opinions and perspectives to matter. Likewise, employees want to work for a company that entrusts people like them who also actively advocate for positive change. When employees feel respected and valued, especially if they may have endured ridicule in the past, aspects of work like productivity, engagement, and overall satisfaction within the workplace is improved. 

This is vital because boosts in company morale and workplace culture only benefit your organization. Happy employees equate to enhanced production, which equates to higher brand attractiveness and in turn, increased company profits. 

Maintaining an Understanding Organization and Prioritizing Inclusion

In efforts to promote diversity within your organization, below are a few strategies to help start off the process of consistently seeking to be more understanding and inclusive.

Take an Honest Internal Look

How do you assess the current state of diversity within your organization? Analyze how many people of color you currently employ, as well as previously hired and sought out for recruitment. This can provide insight on the level of (or lack of) diversity. This data can also show any discriminatory biases that occur within your company, unknowingly or otherwise. 

Consistently Educate Yourself and Your Staff

There are many misconceptions around what discrimination looks like. So it is important to outline what words and behaviors are unacceptable at work. Teach your staff about micro-aggressions and what discrimination may look like to people of various, intersecting backgrounds. In addition to this, be sure to emphasize the impacts of discrimination, big or small, and stress a no-tolerance policy. 

Promote an Open Dialogue

In efforts to grasp difficult topics, learn from each other and get to know each other on a personal level. Encourage employees to unpack biases and/or racist tendencies. Emphasize how harmful it is to act on those beliefs. During these discussions, tread lightly. After all, you don’t want to offend employees, Nor do you want to force someone to discuss personal adversity.  

As industry leaders, this is your chance to spearhead positive change by implementing workplace diversity and inclusivity. It is important to note that no one has all the “right” answers respective to ending discrimination in the workplace. No one can tell you exactly how to eradicate biases. Nonetheless, these issues are serious. And organizations must diligently protect those at risk of enduring injustices.

Overall, focus on harmonizing the workplace by creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone — irrespective of race, gender, age, sexuality, disability, identity, and/or religion.