For the final component of its virtual conversation series, BiasSync recently hosted a panel of experts to discuss the challenge of advancing equity, improving workplace fairness, and strengthening employee engagement. The participants shared insights regarding how to effectively move the needle on everything from reducing unconscious bias to instituting robust diversity, equity, and inclusion policies.
To help level-set the discussion, the participants zeroed in on defining what exactly fairness in the workplace looks like. As Dr. Nario-Redmond put it, “fairness is really about treating employees impartially and, to the extent possible, without bias. We may all strive for objectivity, but sometimes stakeholders and managers have to employ subjective standards as well of fairness. And we know that these standards can be applied differently from person to person.”
“When people perceive that they've been treated unfairly, you lose a lot of hours in the workday by just people feeling hurt and talking about it at the water cooler, instead of working on what they should be working on.”
She went on to describe the perception of unfairness as impacting not only team morale and “hurt feelings” but a business’s bottom line. “When people perceive that they've been treated unfairly, you lose a lot of hours in the workday by just people feeling hurt and talking about it at the water cooler, instead of working on what they should be working on.”
The discussion noted a common misperception: that achieving fairness in the workplace means applying one common set of standards to everyone. The truth is more complex. As Dr. Nario-Redmond put it, “when we are evaluating employees or promotion or other kinds of opportunities … sometimes there are subjectivities involved when we consider how we judge people. For example, we may stereotypically consider women to be more demure, and they can be deemed more assertive or even aggressive just for requesting the same opportunities as a male counterpart.”
How Leaders can Improve Workplace Fairness and Employee Engagement
The discussion ultimately identified a few key take-aways for leaders seeking to institute greater fairness and organizational justice in the workplace.
- Provide your teams with the support they need. Keep in mind that different groups of employees may have different concerns and equities as the workplace grows increasingly diverse. For example, Innes talked about organizations offering wellness credits: a certain amount of money each year that employees can put toward health and wellness needs, whether physical or mental. As she pointed out, organizations might consider including credits within these programs for items such as “maintaining hair,” given the greater amount of time potentially needed by many women of color for maintaining their preferred hair style.
- Make sure your DEI efforts have real teeth to them. It’s not enough to pledge to make donations to good causes if organizations aren’t also carefully looking at how to best get their own house in order in regard to equity in their hiring, training, recruitment, and development practices.
- Create safe forums for open discussion. Following the traumas of the COVID-19 era, as well as the outpouring of demands for racial justice in the wake of events like the murder of George Floyd, more organizations have committed to holding listening sessions and dialogues intended to give employees, including people of color, a constructive forum to share their perspectives.
- Make mentoring a priority. As Dr. Nario-Redmond put it, having mentors in place can help professionals to better learn strategies for navigating organizational complexities from those who have walked in their shoes.
Innes pointed to recent examples of acquaintances who had resigned their positions for not feeling valued as assets to their organizations. It’s increasingly clear that organizations which fail to demonstrate that they value their talent will see them decamp for competitors. The panelists closed with a reminder for leaders to be patient, be intentional, and hold themselves accountable to the strategies they outline.
How BiasSync can Help
BiasSync offers a behavioral approach, incorporating a willingness to change behavior and information on creating micro habits in employees. There is a proprietary organizational audit for every level of equity to consider in the organization and accountability metrics around where a company needs to be in its equity process.
Not just diversity. Inclusion.
Diversity is not just about numbers. It’s about people’s experiences in the workplace. If you’re ready to understand how bias impacts your company—with data to make effective changes, contact us now.