For the last few months, I've been working with a specialized diversity consulting firm, addressing bias and inclusion challenges at a range of organizations. Some of our clients are universities, some are NGOs, and some are big, big companies---the kind with a reach that extends around the world. This has left me wading knee-deep in a diverse group of cultures and expectations, complementing my culture and coaching work at CharlesBank Consulting nicely.
Unconscious bias stems from a survival mechanism of the brain, and it's always there. Our biases can work with us or against us when we're hiring; can be debilitating or enlightening when we're managing; can create the box we're stuck in or take the lid off when we're leading; you get the picture. That "gut instinct" we have about other people is also a bias, and it pays to learn to manage it. When there is too much homogeneity among leaders, from experience to style, innovation suffers.
In higher education settings, people often want to define their own identity. But corporate employees tend to be more accepting of labels, whether race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality or another dimension on the diversity spectrum. Even with tacit acceptance, identity politics are ever present in the workplace. Ignoring them doesn't make them go away.
IBIS Consulting has three decades of experience helping organizations understand to mitigate bias. Reach out if you're interested in learning more about the off-the-shelf e-learning, instructor-led training, interactive theater or any other culture-building approach on offer.
Workplace Culture in the News
Sometimes Women Get Inordinately Boring Tasks and None of The Fun Stuff.
Eventually, They May Leave.
Alright, there's more to the story than that, including further proof of the old adage "people leave managers, not companies." But I find that this study on female engineers represents a lot of what happens in the corporate world. Do men have more fun?
Annual Appraisals, Numbers, and Morgan Stanley
In an effort to be more balanced and to make annual appraisals more useful, Morgan Stanley has stopped rating people on a number scale:
Top Ten Worst Companies to Work For
Just in case you need confirmation that customer satisfaction and employee engagement are inextricably linked:
Facebook and the Faceversary
They take anniversaries very seriously at Facebook. A visit to the Zappos campus last year revealed undeniable investment in anniversaries, recognition and rewards, and all-out swag (a cool t-shirt for every milestone imaginable). These companies are on to something. Is it about seniority? Or is just about recognizing personal milestones? Anniversaries are about the person, not the company. It's a small gesture that I've always noticed is surprisingly effective.
One simple but incredibly effective tool that I learned from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) is called the "Three Levels of Listening."
1: Internal Listening. Focus on our own internal needs and opinions. Hear other’s words, but prioritize our own stories, judgments, interpretations.
2: Focused Listening on Other. All attention directed one-way, from listener to speaker. Hard focus, like a laser, on understanding message of speaker.
3: Global Listening: Developing awareness of everything that’s not being said, including the space around each of you.
It's so hard to get out of the internal chatter stream of Level 1 listening ("What should I make for dinner tonight? What's happening in my next meeting? Do they think I'm unqualified for this project?"), but so rewarding and useful to truly be in Level 2, even for a few minutes at a time. One homework assignment this summer: Build your Level 3 Listening. Do you know anyone who excels at this? Study what they do. As a coach, I've learned that Level 3 listening is possible even over the phone.
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