Discrimination in the workplace is an issue that can make even the most experienced HR expert feel uneasy. It seems to be an issue that many take for granted – surely we’re past the days where one’s social/cultural background would scupper our job prospects?
Figures seem to suggest otherwise, however, with 86% of those questioned in a recent survey by recruitment experts, 360 Resourcing, stating that they themselves had experienced workplace bias. Of those questioned, the vast majority were themselves experts in the HR field.
So what is society still missing when it comes to creating an unbiased working environment?
What is workplace bias?
Bias in the workplace, or indeed in any setting, can be exerted consciously or unconsciously. This means that the individual may either be fully aware or completely unaware of their personal bias affecting their recruitment/management tactics.
Bias may also be positive or negative in its discrimination, meaning a decision-maker may favor a particular individual or group, or indeed dismiss them, whether intentionally or not. This may include people of a certain cultural background, sexual identity, or gender.
Whatever the discrimination and its intention, the result is often similar: a lack of vital diversity within the workforce.
Unconscious bias often presents a much greater challenge than conscious bias. Because the individual may be completely unaware of their discriminatory behaviour, it can be much more difficult to accept its presence and work towards its removal in hiring/management processes.
Why is workforce diversity so important?
In the 21st century, the question of the importance of diversity in any atmosphere has become almost self-answering. Promoting equal opportunity through inclusivity and diversity is one of the most prevalent values in today’s society.
Promoting diversity in business has many advantages. When a workforce is inclusive, it houses a secure working atmosphere that welcomes individuals of all backgrounds. This makes the pool of talent, experience, and social voice much broader. This is not only essential to employee retention, but also to attracting the best new talent from all walks of life.
A diverse workforce brings with it a wider range of skills. It is simply impossible to replicate the varied skill set of an inclusive workforce through linear hiring. This makes the removal of decision-maker bias all the more imperative in getting ahead of the game in 21st-century business.
Can workplace bias be stopped?
With workforce diversity being such an important asset to businesses in the 21st-century, it is crucial that decision-makers equip themselves with the tools to stop discrimination in its tracks.
Organisations such as the Ministry of Justice, Google, and Amazon, to name just a few, have all implemented diversity and inclusion policies in recent years. Tactics include promoting a sense of inclusion as a part of company culture/vision, encouraging a more diverse range of talent to join the team.
Blind hiring methods, which involve removing key identifiers from candidate profiles in recruitment, have also shown to be successful in reducing the occurrence of discrimination.
For business owners, it is more important than ever to ensure that your company presents itself as one that promotes inclusion. This can often be compromised unintentionally by simple mistakes such as the use of language. Words such as salesman, waitress, young, or experienced can all exclude otherwise valuable talent from the hiring process. Putting together a clear vision for inclusivity within your company, as well as avoiding tactics that may lead to bias, can all set you ahead in the move towards equal opportunity for workers globally.
Society still has a long way to come in promoting diversity in the workplace. There is no time like the present to layout your company’s vision for inclusion, whether this is through a review of recruitment tactics, or implementing clear policy.