HR 101 - Diversity & Inclusion

Diverse and inclusive teams provide the skills, talent, perspectives, and experiences that organizations need to be successful and have a competitive advantage - that is the general consensus we understand today. As Canada’s population becomes more diverse, diversity & inclusion (D&I) remains a growing interest among our employers as an integral part of business strategy. In fact, a majority of senior leaders believe in the value of diversity according to a recent study by the Canadian Centre for Diversity & Inclusion - but there is more to be done around the overall effectiveness of D&I programs.

For many diversity efforts, raising awareness is assumed to be the best solution. While attitudes can certainly shift, research tells us that training on its own is ineffective at influencing behaviour change for bias reduction at work. These “check the box” strategies can even be met with resistance or reinforce negative core beliefs and biases in the workplace. If you have a brain, you’re biased - so talking openly about our biases, conscious and unconscious - is a great place to start. But, it's not enough to change the underlying processes that lead to bias in the first place.

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Here are some tips we’ve gathered to help you generate a more effective D&I program:

  1. In the diagnostic stage, adopt an evidence-based approach for an objective viewpoint. Collect data across various sources - scientific findings, HR/D&I practitioner professional advice, and the values/concerns/experiences of your employees and stakeholders. Inclusive data will also the risk of sampling bias.

  2. Identify metrics to avoid identity-based business decisions - aside from demographic data, consider ranked method statements, net promoter scores, promotion rates, sales revenue achievements by departments, customer diversity, and other company-wide or industry metrics to measure the success of your programs.

  3. Have an employee monitor the integrity of your internal promotion process, who doesn’t work directly with the employee being promoted and involve multiple people to evaluate the decision to avoid confirmation and replication bias.

  4. Prioritize building and sustaining inclusive cultures - we need people at work who are truly dedicated to fostering psychological safety and belonging, to attract diverse talent and customers.

  5. If diversity education is required, consider leveraging something like Crescendo (a diversity education platform that integrates with Slack and delivers content that exposes employees to new ideas and the experiences of others, which, increases empathy and starts healthy conversations. It also provides metrics on the level engagement with D&I content and the most popular topics, helping companies test & iterate faster with their D&I education strategy.

  6. “Blind” the recruitment process by removing applicants names

  7. Alter the human experience at work - consider adopting behavioural science techniques (“nudges”) or changing up workplace design.

  8. Structure how you present information to others which helps them reach more rational decisions.

And last but not least…

Support your community including parents and teachers in raising the next generation to be more tolerant, compassionate, inclusive, and progressive human beings.

To create long-lasting positive change, and improve the effectiveness of D&I at work, we have to focus on changing company outcomes through human behaviour. The habits we need to form in catching bias in real time, for everyday decision making.


Melisa DiPietro