Bias, when it comes to recruitment and any other area of the workplace, is one thing, but unconscious bias is quite another. Everyone can spot biased behaviour at work; it’s that sly comment about a person’s age, gender, background, or accent (the list goes on); and this is linked to one person making an assumption about another, because of this
In terms of recruitment, there are still companies that allow certain ‘isms’ to impact on their judgement – which is totally wrong, and utterly counter-productive. However, unconscious bias is also becoming more recognised, and it was a huge boost for a company like Muika Leadership to hear that the mental health charity Mind is actually doing something about it.
The charity intends to ensure it has a totally inclusive policy when it comes to recruitment, with a clear focus on removing unconscious bias from its recruitment process. Interestingly, unconscious bias is something that creeps into the workplace without invitation, and, although individuals would be horrified to know that they fall into the ‘bias’ bracket, the truth is that they are, with little knowledge that they are doing so.
This is about education, because, while biased behaviour is conscious, and people know that they are behaving in a way that will impact on another person in an adverse way, because of their background or lifestyle, unconscious bias is quite the opposite – you just don’t realise you’re doing it Yet it is bias all the same. And there are clear knock-on effects of not dealing with unconscious bias, especially when it becomes the norm at work. It breeds and spreads around the business, creating clear and distinctive ‘sections’ within the workforce, and having a long-lasting impact on team performance. In effect, it will bring down levels of success and destroy morale.
Today, inclusive workplaces must be the norm, and, while it may be the intention of every CEO and business leader up and down the country to generate this type of environment, how many actually do
The first step is to take an audit of the workforce, find out who exactly works at the business, and then use this as the platform to design your inclusive strategy.
Karen Murphy Muika Leadership has put together a monitoring form to get businesses started.