Unconscious bias training seeks to motivate employees to engage controlled mental processes to override their automatic tendencies and transfers proven skills for monitoring and overriding bias and creating inclusive workplaces. Recognising the three critical outcomes of effective training—knowledge, attitude and skills—the structure of our mindful inclusion workshop follows an ‘AIM’ agenda—A for Awareness, I for Intent and M for Mitigate.
Fostering participants’ commitment to responding fairly by highlighting the business case for diversity and inclusion and providing evidence of one’s own biases and implications for work settings.
Building skills for overriding bias using a structured approach: SPACE (Slow down, Perspective Taking, Ask Yourself?, Cultural Intelligence, Exemplars and Expand). The SPACE acronym prompts participants to engage in five proven techniques for managing bias. SPACE also reinforces a key workshop message—to manage bias, individuals must create space to override their automatic reflexes with mindful responses.
An inclusive leader recognises, respects and embraces difference, encourages the expression of unique cultural and social identities and values the contribution of every individual. Inclusion is achieved when every member of the organisation is enabled to participate fully in and contribute to an organisation’s decision-making processes and operations.
Linking an organisation’s diversity and inclusion goals to its business strategy is critical to creating buy-in at the leadership level.
Without knowledge of how culture affects your own and others’ behaviour, you interpret the world through your own cultural lens, failing to attribute differences in behaviours and beliefs to cultural influences. Cultural intelligence (CQ) helps you to overcome cultural blind spots. You can better explain and predict the responses of others and thereby prevent confusion and anxiety and the activation of negative stereotypes and biases in diverse cultural settings.
The criteria that individuals use to judge leadership varies across cultures. Traits and behaviours that define effective leadership in one cultural setting, do not necessarily translate to other settings. Effective global leadership is not a static set of qualities and behaviours, but it involves flexibility across cultural settings to meet the varied expectations of followers.
Inclusive leaders commit to understanding and managing their implicit assumptions and prejudgments. Contemporary leadership problems are global, dynamic, novel, and unpredictable. Reliance on what worked in the past is no longer sufficient. Contemporary leaders need to be adaptable. They must be able to consciously transcend habitual cognitive and behavioural scripts, attend to their new environment through a perceptual filter not tarnished with preconceptions, engage in creative problem-solving through integrating diverse perspectives and make higher-quality decisions based on widely-sourced, objective information.
Diversity dimensions refer to characteristics that can be associated with workplace inequality. Those include visible characteristics like race, gender, disability and age as well as less visible characteristics such as sexual orientation, health status, parenting status, religion and educational background. Organisational-related characteristics like role, tenure, location and department can also be associated with workplace inequality.
Inclusive leaders know how to empower diverse social and cultural groups so that every individual has a fair chance of success.
Individuals with high cultural intelligence display four main competencies:
A willingness to work with diverse others. This involves the ability to overcome explicit or unconscious bias and the capacity to persist in challenging interactions—even when confused, frustrated, or burnt out.
An understanding of culture and cultural differences. This involves more than awareness of variations in language, customs, and appearance. Core cultural differences like values, assumptions, and beliefs are often invisible but cause the most problems—and are frequently overlooked.
An ability to flex mentally. With high CQ Strategy, individuals are not confined to a single worldview. They are open to new or integrative ideas.
An ability to flex verbal and non-verbal behaviour. This decreases the risk of miscommunication and helps the individual to respond to diverse others in a manner that conveys respect and builds trust and rapport.
Cultural intelligence is relevant at all levels of an organisation, but it is especially relevant at the leadership level. Domestic leaders may not be successful internationally unless they possess high cultural intelligence. Leaders with high cultural intelligence have a global mindset; they scan their external environments for relevant and unbiased information. Cultural intelligence improves and speeds up a leader’s problem-solving, decision-making and risk assessment in ambiguous, complex and volatile environments. Leaders with high cultural intelligence develop strong alliances across the globe to help them capture new opportunities. They are better at engaging with suppliers and collaborators and influencing policy-makers and other stakeholders external to the organisation. Culturally intelligent leaders are better at inspiring and leading diverse workforces. They manage varied world views to articulate a shared vision across the organisation.
Women experience and are perceived to have lower levels of confidence in professional settings compared with men. The gender confidence gap widens significantly within only two to five years of entering the workforce. Lower levels of confidence prevent female talent from contributing fully to the workplace and achieving their full potential, negatively impacts the career progression of women and contributes to the gender pay gap. Addressing the confidence gap is a critical component of an organisation’s efforts to empower female talent and drive higher levels of gender diversity at senior leadership.