The issue of DEI in the workplace is often in the news, and many people become offended at the idea that perhaps their workplace, their hiring choices or even their personal preferences betray discrimination. This offence can lead to a doubling down or refusal to accept that perhaps changes need to be made – and this is a shame as it has been proven that a diverse workplace tends to respond well to changes, is more productive and tends to have happier employees, with all the attendant benefits that a contented workforce brings. Let’s have a look at some strategies to consider when building towards an inclusive workplace.

 

Unconscious Bias is Unconscious

When it comes to the phrase unconscious bias, it is all too easy for hiring managers to only hear ‘bias’ and ignore the ‘unconscious’ part. But that is literally what it is: we are all geared to feel drawn to people who look like us – this is a primitive defence mechanism from prehistoric times when those who looked like us were from ‘our tribe’ and strangers were those who looked different and therefore could not be trusted. But we are a long way from prehistory and there is no longer the fierce competition for precious and hard-won resources, so fighting that urge is very important.

 

How To Overcome Unconscious Bias?

The first step towards overcoming biases of this nature is to look at the existing workplace. Are all the employees white? Are they all older? Are they mostly straight, as far as you can tell? Are you yourself a white, straight person who saw the other side of thirty some time ago? (Biases can run in other directions too: older people can be overlooked by younger hiring managers, thereby losing a wealth of valuable industry experience.) If you can see that your workforce falls into a narrow demographic, it is time to acknowledge there may be some unconscious bias in play – and that is the first step towards overcoming it!

 

Deliberately Widen Your Hiring Pool

It can feel weird to specify that you are looking for Black candidates or those from ethnic minority backgrounds – and it is a ticklish area legally, so do proceed with caution – but adding the words ‘looking for candidates from diverse backgrounds’ can sometimes encourage people who might otherwise be put off seeing your company’s staff directory online – check out headhunter recruitment here for some excellent candidates. Make a habit of interviewing people with diverse backgrounds and ensure that existing staff know that you are working to increase representation at the company. And also make it clear that no one will be hired simply to ‘tick a box’: the diverse candidate will be exactly as qualified as they need to be, while coincidentally meeting a DEI target – this will ensure that the new candidate is not bullied or accused of benefiting from affirmative action.

 

Be A Good Place for Diverse Candidates to Work

It doesn’t matter how encouraging your recruitment adverts are, if the workplace does not seem geared towards different religions, the LGBT community, or other ethnicities, diverse candidates like this will stay away. No one likes feeling like the odd one out, and no one ever wants to be the ‘token’ of any sort. Ensure that candidates (and even existing employees) will feel comfortable embracing their differences at your workplace – even something as small as permitting cubicles to be decorated to their personal taste can give the office a lively and welcoming vibe that will reassure candidates that they can express their true selves, rather than confine themselves into a company-policy shaped box.