December 3, 2020
By David Windley, Forbes
Over the summer, racial inequalities and injustice were brought to the forefront of our consciousness. We were forced to recognize that the policies and systems that were previously put in place to create increased diversity and racial equity have failed to bring the systemic change that was sought. The challenge that leaders of organizations are faced with today is how to move forward with real action that will improve diversity and inclusion, ultimately leading to equity across all groups of people.
First, we must admit the problem exists. Recent research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) through its “Journey to Equity and Inclusion” study reveals that 49% of Black professionals feel discriminated at work, while only 13% of white professionals agree that racial discrimination exists. Further, 68% of Black employees feel their organization is not doing enough to provide opportunities to minorities compared to just 38% of white employees who agree.
An organization’s first challenge is to ensure that there is a shared context around racial and other forms of inequities. It is difficult to solve an issue if most people feel that there is not an issue to be solved.
Recognizing that bias is normal and a natural behavior in all humans will demystify the issue of unconscious bias. Humans instinctively categorize the world around them, including people. Therefore, we must become aware of our unconscious filters to create new processes and systems that will help remove racial and gender bias from day-to-day decisions in the workplace.