EVERY time I go to a campus to speak to students about my profession and what it takes to be successful in it, I always get asked questions about employer biases.
Do we favor graduates who come from Manila or from certain top universities? Do we have a bias for those who speak English well? I have always found myself replying with a quick retort, saying that we carefully guard ourselves from such biases so we can get the right talent for our organization.
The business case for diversity and inclusion
Millennials who were born between 1980 and 1995, like many who have asked me about my hiring preferences, comprise more than 80 percent of my organization’s workforce.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recently conducted a study covering 10,105 millennials across 75 countries, including the Philippines. Eighty-six (86) percent of the female and 74 percent of male millennials policy on diversity, equality and work inclusion as important when deciding whether or not to work for an employer. This supports a strong business case for diversity and inclusion in our workplace.
To attract and retain talent, however, diversity and inclusion have to go beyond balancing people demographics like gender, religion, race and age. We need to create an inclusive work environment where people feel that they can be appreciated for being themselves and get opportunities to advance without being hindered by non- inclusive practices and ways of thinking as those brought about by unconscious biases.
What is bias anyway? Is it wrong to have my own biases?
Our mind naturally forms biases as it processes tons of information that come its way. It is part of how we naturally think and live. It enables us to make quick decisions, many of which are basic for survival. Fire and smoke tell you tells you to stop and green tells you to go.
As we go through life, we associate certain things together that eventually form our biases. I know of people who think those who speak English well are smart; someone who is fair-skinned is probably rich; gay people are best at doing creative work; those who wear business suits can be trusted; and millennials have a problem being loyal to their employers. However, I have learned from experience that this is not always the case.
When it comes to knowing people, there is usually more than meets the eye.
Research tells us that our impression or judgment of others is usually formed within 30 seconds of meeting them. Upon forming our opinion, our mind is more likely to collect information that reinforces our earlier perception. If we let our biases drive decisions in attracting, developing and retaining talent, we are likely to end up with a relatively homogenous talent pool—one that may not be enough to enable our organization to survive, much less thrive in a very competitive environment.
impressions of people can still change and the accuracy of our views increases as we spend more time getting to know them. There are steps we can take to be more aware of our unconscious biases. We can also behave in ways that