In May of 2020, news of George Floyd’s death spread across the nation (and world). Yet another black man was subject to police brutality, an occurrence that has been all to familiar to us since to the start of our nation. Communities everywhere were not only outraged, but exhausted that they continue to see the same patterns of behavior occurring and innocent individuals being subject to unfair treatment.
As advocates spoke out, organizations, companies and communities pledged to do better. They pledged for equality, representation and inclusion. However, research shows that some companies who made pledges to increase racial diversity have actually hired fewer minorities in the last year than previous years. Whether this is intentional or not, it appears many companies still need work on changing their longstanding patterns of hiring and possible biases.
Tackling the issue at the root
While making verbal pledges to increase diversity in hiring is a good start, change cannot be made until the cause of the discrepancy in hiring minorities in the first place is addressed. This is where implicit bias comes in. All of us have it, and it does not make us bad people. However, understanding we have it and not making active efforts to eliminate it is wrong.
When implicit bias is present in the hiring process, this harms our efforts to build a diverse employee base of different opinions, ideas and methods. Diversity is positive, and should be celebrated. Having different perspectives can help expand creativity, reach a wider audience, and create a positive work environment.
One of the first steps to take is to identify where your implicit biases lie, and to make an active effort towards inclusion and celebrating diversity.
Some steps that can be taken both immediately and long-term:
- Take the Harvard implicit bias test: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
- This is direct and forward, you can have employees take this test and reflect back on what they learned. We often have biases we did not know we had!
- Practice mindfulness, and be mindful of the first thought or feeling that comes to mind when you see someone.
- This is especially important in the hiring process. We often can make immediate assumptions about someone based solely on their appearance. Watch out for this and always be open to learning more about someone!
- Diversity workshops and trainings
- The truth is, everyone needs to learn more about being more inclusive. Providing employees with opportunities to learn more shows you care and are encouraging positive growth.
- Speakers that are diverse
- This also can be someone within the company or organization already. Hearing directly from individuals of minority groups can be helpful!
- Have open conversations with employees that are of different race/background and encourage the same
- Lead with example, and don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations with others.