In today’s political climate, unconscious bias has become a key topic of discussion and training for managers, especially as it relates to recruiting and hiring. It is extremely important for organizations to train managers and other leaders on the impact of diversity and inclusion and how these initiatives positively impact the organizations' bottom lines.
Without diversity of thought, organizations are prone to groupthink and rely on the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset. This mindset has repeatedly proven to be a deficit to organizational growth. Unfortunately, there are still more organizations who default to this type of leadership and team management. Change is the only constant and must be embraced and implemented, although measured and strategic. To be successful and create the desired shift in culture, change must be driven from the top of the leadership pyramid.
As human resources professionals, we are charged with coaching and training leaders to see outside of their normal mode of thinking. We advise them on ways to integrate diversity and inclusion into their recruiting, succession planning, workforce planning, policies and processes. Impacting hiring decisions, employee development and the employee life cycle are all integral components on organizational change, leadership and development.
Thus, HR professionals must strive to be recognized as trusted advisors for leaders. Having the right knowledge, skills and abilities is extremely important for allowing HR professionals to be sought after by organizational leadership in key employee decision-making, and for allowing HR professionals to obtain and maintain a seat at the leadership table.
Fortunately, many of my HR colleagues have been able to make the shift to become true strategic business partners and not just transactional taskmasters. This professional transformation has proven helpful in re-engineering organizational cultures, but there is still plenty of work to do.
The most recent examples have been Uber and Google. Based on recent accounts, it can be surmised that the human resources functions at these organizations did not feel empowered to create a cultural change due to lack of support from the top. Now these organizations are in damage control mode and have had to terminate key leaders and employees and hire professionals who can help lead the change needed to move the companies in the right direction as it relates to diversity and inclusion.
Other organizations should take notice of the impact the negative press and changes in leadership have had on both Uber and Google and make corrections to their own policies and procedures sooner rather than later. More importantly, the HR team should be included in those conversations from the beginning through full implementation of any new or revised diversity and inclusion initiatives. Organizational leaders should be certain to support HR in their efforts to implement change and, when necessary, shift the culture. The messaging has to come from the top, which means the leadership team has to lead by example by being a diverse and inclusive representation of their employees and customers.
Diversity and inclusion start with the recruiting and hiring process. This is where HR has the biggest impact. Take steps to ensure candidate pools are diverse by posting jobs on specific websites aimed at diverse candidates. Attend meetings at professional organizations and recruit at colleges or universities who target diverse members and students. Building relationships with these organizations will keep your company top of mind as an employer of choice, thus attracting diverse candidates.
Once a diverse and inclusive candidate pool has been established, HR should partner with hiring managers to ensure unconscious bias does not play a part in selecting candidates to interview and eventually hire. Some signs of unconscious bias could include using a candidate’s name as a reason to exclude them from the interview process. The hiring manager’s focus should be on the candidate’s knowledge, skills, abilities and experience. HR can prove helpful in the hiring process by serving as an advisor for managers, helping them compare candidates fairly and equitably, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation/identity or gender.
This was originally written for Forbes.