A crisis forces you to look at a business with a critical eye. Since one is in survival mode, there is no longer time for pretenses. While diversity and inclusion may have been buzz words used by corporations cosmetically to display political correctness, a post-pandemic world has revealed its real necessity. As business models in almost every industry change to meet the needs of a new environment, connecting with the customer at a basic human level becomes critical to ensure a good customer experience, which, in turn, assures a stable financial position for the company.
And customers are diverse. They are diverse in many ways – gender, race, national origin, geographic location, etc. It is practically impossible to continue the old one-to-many relationship with customers when it comes to understanding buying behavior, service level expectations, post-sales relationships, etc. without having a worldview that understands them at an innate level. Companies are, therefore, embarking on focused D&I initiatives that are no longer focused on optics but on actual performance. History has shown that any process that is based on improving results is far more sustainable and even successful than ones designed to meet metrics detached from the financial performance of an organization.
Another dynamic that impacts this phenomenon is the fact that underserved populations have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The reasons are varied – a more devastating impact on the health of this population due to COVID-19, to a lack of digital infrastructure at home preventing them from being productive during lockdowns and WFH periods. In either case, the unfortunate result is the loss of a job. So, while the customer base continues to be diverse, the employee base has become less so in many industries. Therefore, especially in industries most impacted by this scourge, it has become important to double down on diversity hiring initiatives.
Despite the reasons stated above and despite the real push by leaders of companies to increase diversity hiring, organizations are still struggling to do so. How can leaders mitigate this gap and achieve a diverse and inclusive business model across all levels of an organization? By confronting the unconscious bias that accompanies hiring diverse talent
One of the biggest issues accompanying D&I is the unconscious bias that resides in all of us. These are biases that are not executed willfully but exist as a result of where we were born, our parents, teachers, friends, and every person and place that has had an impact on our thought process.
One way to overcome this unconscious bias is by engaging a diverse group of people in the interviewing and hiring process. As stated, your employee base must reflect your customers, and encouraging a diverse hiring team helps reduce the unconscious bias that might come through during the interview.
Technology, too, can help remove some of the interpretations of these biases by allowing precise information to come to the forefront so our leaders can make sound hiring decisions. There are various tools and frameworks that exist today that help remove this bias regardless of who is sitting on the other side of the table or screen. Investing in such tools can truly grow companies in a manner that will best serve them on the other side of this pandemic. Numerous studies indicate having diversity during and after a downturn makes the return to normal financial positions much better and faster.
Now, more than ever, Diversity and Inclusion are essential to the success of a business.