BE­YOND BI­ASES

Manila Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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