Compass 2022: the key to inclusion

The rule book on how we work has been completely thrown out of the window. Yet, following the disruption of recent years, we want to continue focusing on how companies are treating their employees.
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Inclusion and accessibility is one of 10 themes Courier wants to focus on in 2022 – our compass for content, if you will. Some stories and topics get us going a bit more than others, and while they might not include the fastest growing industries or the most talked-about trends, they're the ones we think deserve more attention over the coming 12 months. Click here to see all 10 themes.

If businesses weren't already aware of the prominence of workplace inequality before 2020, chances are they are now. Global protests and corporate scandals were the theme of much of last year, as boardrooms woke up to the harmful effects of discriminatory behavior and exclusionary practices at work. While some employers made only token efforts to change, momentum in general has continued, with businesses still being put to task on creating an attractive, safe and welcoming space for people from all backgrounds.

It's not just big business that's affected. Everyone, from well-funded startups with dozens of remote workers down to the three-person teams operating out of their founders' living rooms, needs to consider what impact their culture is having on brand reputation and employee wellbeing. Everything from your website design and working hours to the language used in job ads can affect how people perceive your brand. 

Courier will continue to focus on the positive changes businesses can make to ensure they promote inclusivity and accessibility, and build companies that offer staff more than just a paycheck.

Making recruitment fairer

Many problems relating to non-inclusive workplaces come down to unfair hiring processes, where unconscious biases or outright discrimination lead to certain demographics not being fairly considered. A Harvard Business Publishing survey in early 2021 found eight out of 10 employers were training staff to reduce bias and increase inclusion. But, attempting to get rid of biases altogether is an almost impossible task. As such, AI-powered hiring tech is now commonplace, removing the human element from assessments.

Modern Hire is hiring software that deploys natural language processing and deep learning for video interviews, to measure candidates only on responses that are relevant to interview questions. 

Cangrade is human capital management software that invites companies to answer questions about job specs, then uses its AI-powered Job Description Decoder to highlight soft skills needed for that particular role, and suggest language to use to attract the right candidates. 

Bryq has a similar job analysis solution that suggests certain personality traits that are most suited to a role. It also offers blind candidate screening and creates standardized interview procedures, which reduce the likelihood of unconscious biases creeping in.  

Insights on inclusion

We caught up with Ashleigh Ainsley, co-founder of Black Tech Fest, a live festival celebrating black culture, innovation and inclusion, to learn his thoughts on the recent evolution of workplace inclusion.

What shift in attitudes toward workplace inclusion have you seen in the past 18 months?

A. There's been a huge shift from companies across the spectrum in acknowledging the role of race in our society and the influence of that in creating inclusive spaces. Nonetheless, for a number of organizations, the pace of change has been slower than we would have liked. The first step is dialog, but a lot of organizations didn't have the people, processes or budgets in place to make systematic versus tokenistic change. That's the thing that's taking time, and those who were set up to achieve success early on have been able to push forward the agenda of inclusion in their own products, teams and culture.’

What would you say to those small businesses that haven't addressed the status quo?

A. ‘The reality is that organizations are in an intense talent war, and folks have never been so inquisitive to understand the values, culture and efforts driving inclusion. The best talent out there have options, and the reality is that they will leave to join workplaces that are shown to be innovating and pioneering in these spaces.’

Hiring biases you should be aware of: 

Conformity bias. When your innate desire to conform affects how you behave around others, like when you're afraid to share an unpopular opinion about a candidate post-interview to the rest of the recruitment panel.

Affinity bias. When you have a favorable view about someone simply because you share something in common.

Anchor bias. When you judge someone too early or rely too heavily on the very first piece of information that you hear about them.

Illusory correlation. When you draw a connection between things where no relationship exists, such as asking someone a question unrelated to the job role and then using that to judge their competence.

This article was first published in Courier issue 44, December 2021/January 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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