October 15, 2018

Below is a lesson from LinkedIn on why it is imperative that we confront our unconscious biases, as well as our key learning.

The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth.  We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”.  We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning.  As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.


Why Confronting Our Unconscious Biases Is Both a Moral and Business Imperative

By Yuval Atsmon

In diversity there is beauty and there is strength – Maya Angelou

We were a team of eight (Korean, Singaporean, Indian, American, German, Chinese, Filipino and Israeli, including two women), serving a multinational consortium in deciding how much to bid in one of the largest privatization auctions in Asia’s history. What we achieved in four short and intense weeks in 2006 still amazes me.

Our rapid cross-pollination of knowledge and vigorous brainstorming led us to a comprehensive report and robust future cash flow projections within two weeks, at the end of which we recommended a multi-billion-dollar bid (a recommendation we reversed a week later). By week 4, we were asked to explain to the regulators the hard-to-spot formula mistake they had made, and the auction was suspended for over a year until the regulatory board finally agreed on the correction.

On that occasion and repeatedly since then, I have been able to see what has been decisively demonstrated in research. Diversity and inclusion are a business imperative, and racial, ethnic and gender diversity leads to better financial outcomes, customer experience and employee retention.

Continue reading here.


Key Learnings:

  • Diversity and inclusion are a business imperative, and racial, ethnic and gender diversity leads to better financial outcomes, customer experience and employee retention.
  • To appreciate how diversity leads to stronger teams and greater creativity, we need to unlearn our biases.
  • While a meritocratic society of strivers with the talent, energy and skill to reach the top is a beautiful idea, it’s also vicious in the implication that people at the bottom likewise deserve to be where they are.
  • True meritocracy eludes us for too many reasons (health, gender, race, ethnicity, appearance and demeanor, language, sexual orientation, birth order, age, education, religion, etc. come into play)
  • While we largely accept that the idea of social meritocracy is only directionally true, we still make decisions about whom to hire and invest in at work as though we’re actually living in one.
  • We tend to give far too much consideration to feel-good success stories, leading to the illusion that we live in a meritocracy.
  • 4 practices to help counteract our unconscious biases:
    • Rethink how you make decisions
      • We must recognize the inevitability of unconscious biases. Research has shown that the more convinced people are about their ability to be objective, the more likely they are to make biased decisions.
      • It’s okay that we are fallible, but we need the discipline to put a system in place that will address this, just like we use calendars and other reminder systems to be more reliable and productive with our time.
    • Feed the funnel
      • Diversifying candidate pools should be an imperative not only for recruiting but also development and leadership programs and promotion decisions to ensure we have a greater diversity of options at every career stage.
    • Get to know the person and their background
      • Conventional wisdom about unconscious bias holds that by asking candidates for fewer personal details, we protect ourselves from unconscious bias — why many diversity programs fail.
      • Getting authentically personal builds deeper connections and creates a psychologically safer environment.
    • Mentor out of your comfort zone
      • Another bias we suffer from is implicit egotism — the tendency to gravitate towards people who resemble us.
      • It can lead to a richer experience on both sides as perceptions are altered by learning about each other.
      • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

 


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