The demographic changes taking place globally will require leaders to be more open-minded and flexible in order to attract the next generation of prospective employees from a wider pool and from diverse backgrounds. Furthermore, leaders may need to recognise that whilst the environment works for them, others may not share their reality or experience and thereby not be engaged with what they are doing. This matters as disengagement impacts on productivity in the workplace. Business leaders, because of their unconscious bias, may not be able to see the connection between their behaviours and their decision making. For example, who gets to be employed in their teams or who is given mentoring or is assigned prestigious projects. What’s more, these same leaders may not hold a vision on how diversity and inclusion would add to their sustainability in the future. However, the reality is that leaders working in multinational organisations need to be equipped to meet the different challenges in their environments, whether it is domestic or cross-border working.
A recent example at Google showed unconscious bias in their mobile video uploads. The team that built the iOS YouTube App didn't consider left-handed users when it added in mobile uploads, causing videos recorded in a left-handed person's view of landscape to appear upside-down. Such an action is most certainly unintended and unconscious by those developers who put the IOP YouTube App together. Another example of the impact of unconscious bias on people’s decision making in business was cited in a study of 1,250 employers* Dummy résumés with typically "white" names received 50% more interview call backs than those with typically "black" names. What has become obvious is that the unconscious perceptions of leaders can have a profound impact in the decisions they make on the lives of others?
In a multinational environment, if you want to succeed, meet the bottom line and be innovative, leaders will need to begin to look at their unconscious bias, human interactions, the ‘in-group’ and ‘out-group’ dynamics, * and how these create an inclusive environment as an integral part of the way a leader manages those they work with. Google have been open in recognising that they are not where they want to be on diversity and inclusion and since 2013 have embarked on seminars called ‘The science of Inclusion’ for all their employees. This programme focusses on how unconscious bias occurs, and how eliminating unconscious bias can foster an inclusive workplace environment.
So, through training and development interventions, leaders can begin to challenge these “limiting beliefs” enabling them to make new choices about how they run their businesses and manage their people.
In my next post I will explore in more depth how unconscious bias holds leaders back and what to do about it.
· Banaji, Mahzarin &Greenwald, Anthony G. (2013) Blind spot: Hidden Bias of Good people. Delacorte Press
· Wood, M, Hales, J, Purdon, S, Sejersen, T & Hayllar, (2009) and A test for racial discrimination in recruitment practices in British cities: research report no 607. Department for Work and Pensions, London
· Dr Gordan Evian Brain Revolution train your Brain to freedom
· Rock David Your Brain at work (2009)
· Kahneman, Daniel – Thinking fast and slow (2011)
· Kandola, Binna. The value of Differences: Eliminating Bias in Organisations