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  • Trish Driver

Creating A Consciously Inclusive Culture



This article was originally published by our discovery partners, great{with}talent, who we work in partnership with. For more information on how we work with them, click here.


Being biased is an unfortunate side effect of human nature, and we are all guilty of it, whether consciously or unconsciously. For employers, therefore, creating an inclusive workplace means constantly keeping your finger on the pulse of your organisational culture, being aware of how unconscious bias creeps in, and taking steps to address and prevent it. It takes a conscious approach to diversity and inclusion to lift the lid on an unavoidable human trait – unconscious bias. As an employer, therefore, you need more than just a policy and a bit of training. You need to get under the skin of your organisation and understand how your culture and practices impact minority groups within your workforce. At great{with}diversity, our aim is to help every organisation to become consciously inclusive, from the sourcing and hiring stage, through the employment relationship and beyond, and our diversity-focused online engagement audits do exactly that. Unconscious bias is everywhere, and, when uncovered, it’s a controversial topic. Just look at the furore surrounding Liam Neeson. In case you missed it, Neeson was interviewed this week about his latest film release, the theme of which is revenge. During the interview he recounted a personal story; 40 years ago, he roamed the streets in pursuit of a black person to kill after someone close to him disclosed she had been raped by an unidentified black person. In the ensuing media storm, the debate has raged. Should he be branded a racist and vilified for his comments? Was it just an irrational ‘in-the-moment’ reaction, borne of unconscious bias and powerful need to avenge his friend’s honour? Is there ever a context in which any kind of bias is more, or less acceptable? John Barnes has spoken out in defence of Neeson. Commenting on Sky News, Barnes said that the interview needs to be heard in context and that he respects Neeson for telling the truth about his feelings. According to Barnes, “We are all unconscious racists”, and in Neeson’s case, the wider context was revenge, not racism. Neeson showed remorse and regret for the latter, even if not the former. Neeson vehemently denies being a racist (for better or for worse, his justification is that he would have latched on to any other relevant minority characteristic, but the perpetrator happened to be black). What he acknowledges, with remorse, is that he displayed unconscious racism – a failing he thinks applies to us all. “We all pretend we’re kind of politically correct. I mean, in this country, it’s the same in my own country, too, you sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry, and it’s there,” he commented. Unconscious bias is most certainly powerful and, in truth, there isn’t a human being on the planet who can honestly say they’re immune to it. But bias is bias, and to the individual on the receiving end, it’s no sweeter a pill to swallow because it comes from an unconscious place. Supposing Neeson had been presented with the opportunity to carry out his intentions to kill a black man out of revenge? In that event, his actions would have been considered out and out racism, no questions asked, and the consequences would have been no less tragic or pointless for the fact that they were unconsciously influenced. So, as an employer watching this story unfold, be warned. Bias (whether in the form of race, gender or anything else) is everywhere. To a certain extent – because you can’t change human nature at its core – it’s inevitable. But, when it influences how people behave and how people are treated, it’s unacceptable, even at the unconscious level. More to the point (wandering the streets with a cosh and murderous intentions notwithstanding), unconscious bias is generally harder to spot, because it is milder in its manifestation, often ‘tolerated’ by victims and bystanders alike, and – because it usually falls under the radar – it is harder to address with disciplinary action. At its worst, unconscious bias becomes an accepted norm in the workplace – that’s to say, accepted by the majority, and endured by the minority. Every responsible employer is wise to the risks of out and out discrimination at work. But creating a truly inclusive workplace – one in which every corner of your current and potential employee community shares truly equal opportunity and enjoys the same level of engagement and camaraderie – takes more than addressing the overt and obvious. The fact that unconscious bias sits within us all is the very reason why creating an inclusive workplace requires a conscious commitment. At great{with}diversity we want every individual to be accepted for who they are, to be given the opportunity to shine and realise their full potential. Our expert team of psychologists have developed a unique range of questionnaires that focus on the perceived impact and importance of bias in the workplace, thereby enabling organisations to take a root and branch approach to foster diversity and inclusion both in principle and in practice. The reports generated from our online questionnaire will provide deep-dive analytics into engagement levels, zoning in on all or specified minority groups, and gaining their specific and honest feedback on what is (and is not) going on in your organisation. The insight you’ll gain will be instrumental in helping you to consciously build and maintain a culture of diversity and inclusion, whilst ensuring that your resources are directed towards meaningful and impactful change. Our service is simple, hassle-free and cost-effective – we require nothing more than the email addresses and names of participating employees. We’ll deliver the questionnaire directly to their mobile, tablet or desktop, assimilate and analyse the resulting data, and provide you with clear feedback in the form of a detailed, prioritised and solution-focused report (see our sample report), complete with our expert advice. You’ll understand – better than you ever have before – exactly how diversity and inclusion lives and breathes through your organisation, and how you can make changes (big or small) that could make for a more inclusive workplace and improved employee engagement levels in every part of your business. All of which results in happier staff and greater discretionary effort, positively impacting key profit and loss factors such as absence rates, employee turnover, productivity and profitability.

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We provide diversity and inclusion consultancy everywhere from London, Surrey, Hampshire and across the UK, to Europe and the rest of the world; helping our clients to build a diverse talent pool, and to create and sustain an inclusive working culture.