Diversity matters. Most organisations actively promote diversity in their Early Talent recruitment initiatives and in the workplace. Generation Y is leading the charge on diversity and equality and are coming to expect both where they work—across gender, race and orientation to name just a few.

Nevertheless, a 2014 study by Deloitte showed that 61% of people say they “cover up” some aspect of themselves at work. That’s 3 out of 5 people. Something is being lost in translation between the desire for diversity and the realisation of that desire in practice.

The question to ask yourself is: How do we make diversity more than a ‘tick-box’ exercise?

Part of the answer is moving beyond awareness and to create an inclusive environment through better understanding. So how might one begin to do that?

Here is our perspective on the approach to Diversity and Inclusion at TST.

The Unconscious Barriers to Inclusiveness

As you probably know, we love learning at The Smarty Train. A key part of the learning dynamic is habit formation. We’ve waxed lyrical about the topic here and here. Habits are a big part of the diversity story because of the role they play in unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias is the habitual and unconscious association of particular qualities to members of certain social groups. These biases are influenced by experience, and are based on learned associations between various qualities and social categories, including race or gender.

Everyone has these biases. Project Implicit, a Harvard-led exploration of unconscious bias, has administered online tests to millions of people. The result? Virtually everyone is biased one way or another. It’s human nature and it does not make you a bad person—it makes you normal. (Take the tests here—we did!)

Where unconscious bias does become a problem is when we are not aware of it and inadvertently let it take the reins of our decisions. We rely on our habits at critical times—when we are stressed, tired or overloaded. While we might know we are committed to gender equality in our conscious minds, our habits can lead us astray without us even realising it!

Top Three Tips for Tackling Bias and Embracing Diversity

  1. Talk about it – Most people aren’t aware that they have unconscious biases. The first step in sensitising people to them, is letting them know that it’s something to look out for.
  2. Provide training – Briefing new joiners on policies and talking about the importance of D&I is only the first step. The second is to help equip your Early Talent with the tools they need to be their most understanding and inclusive selves. One way to achieve this is to run training sessions on collaboration so that they can put words and policies into action.
  1. Create connections – Research shows that, like biases, most people do believe stereotypes about groups of people. However these stereotypes, breakdown when faced with the real thing. How are you encouraging your graduates to get to know each other?

The Innovation Age, there is no excuse not to celebrate diversity. With true diversity and inclusion, creativity and innovation know no bounds. The impossible becomes merely improbable. As Malcolm Forbes put it, “diversity is the art of thinking independently together.”

By Debbie Danon

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