Posted on November 29, 2017
Research proves that one-off mandatory unconscious bias training has failed to increase diversity and inclusion or decrease bias in the workforce. People either quickly forget what they learned, or they might do it begrudgingly if they’ve been strong-armed into paying attention.
We need to go beyond one-off training and embed diversity and inclusion throughout the employee lifecycle. Spoiler alert: if you’ve engaged with any external partners, now would be a good time to talk about the 2018 roadmap! One way to ensure integration occurs in the most obvious places is to partner with your Learning and Development teams so that diversity and inclusion is ingrained from onboarding on day one to manager engagements later in the year.
Here are some ways that we integrated diversity and inclusion throughout the employee lifecycle at Pandora.
When training recruiters and hiring managers on how to identify winning candidates or interview effectively, it’s important to have bias-free job descriptions (see Textio and Talent Sonar), “blind” resume screening tools, and inclusive interview questions. Asking questions like “tell me about an adversity you had to overcome” is something that everyone can meaningfully speak about and is inclusive of all backgrounds, ethnicities, or genders. Questions like “what do you like to do for fun?” can cause interviewers to establish shortcut affinity through similar hobbies without learning more about how this person approaches work. In short, “do I want to grab a beer with this person after work” is not the best way to hire a top performer!
In addition, once candidates are surfaced, recruiters are often, if not always, in meetings where candidacy is discussed. At Pandora, we ask our recruiters to be more “consultative” and to help hiring managers recognize when bias might be creeping into the recruitment process. For example, when interview debriefs start to address a candidate’s personality, such as “he seemed standoffish” or “she doesn’t seem that friendly” the recruiter can play a key role in bringing the conversation back to an assessment of the candidate’s experience and skill set based on what the role requires.
Most importantly, changing perceptions is only a part of the solution. Setting goals are necessary as well. For example, similar to how company university programs typically tie ROI to specific schools, Pandora ties ROI to the partnerships we invest in such as Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) where we agree on a desired number of hires out of its stellar programs.
Onboarding should be a natural place for diversity and inclusion practices to surface since one of the goals of onboarding is to foster an immediate sense of belonging. We center our onboarding program at Pandora on one of our company principles: diversity makes us stronger.
We help new employees bond through a range of community and social events scheduled throughout the onboarding process. For example, we invite different Pandora Communities, commonly known as employee resource groups (ERGs), like Pandora Women, to mix and mingle with new hires. We also foster a sense of belonging in the wider local community by inviting external groups to perform or provide a service like catering during an onboarding lunch hour so new hires know that when we say you have 40 hours of volunteer time off, we mean it.
Our L&D team recently tapped CODE2040, an external organization that promotes awareness, access, and opportunities for Black and Latino technical talent, to partner with Pandora Mixtape (Pandora’s employee resource group for employees of color) to develop a curriculum that can help the group further achieve its goals. For example, one of Pandora Mixtape’s goals is to help advocate for more diversity in our senior ranks. So, the groups are coming together to tackle “what kind of resources can be created for members to do that more effectively?”
Understanding the needs of our Pandora Communities also helps our L&D team produce manager enablement resources that are more inclusive of the unique challenges that some of our underrepresented employees may face.
Since managers serve as multipliers for a company’s culture, incorporating diversity and inclusion training in manager enablement is critical to reaching every employee. A few years back, Pandora also worked with CODE2040 to help managers develop empathy for situations that they themselves take for granted, such as having a manager who is the same gender and race & ethnicity as them or experiencing the ease of walking home late at night without having to be alert. We then translated those “ah ha” moments to help managers understand that different backgrounds or family structures might affect a person’s ability to voice opinions or go after, say promotions. Just because an employee is not the first to speak up, it doesn’t mean that they are less engaged. It could mean that the risk of speaking up as “the only” one is higher. We worked with our managers to think about these issues and incorporate them into their management practices.
L&D professionals need to start to thinking about infusing unconscious bias training in a more holistic way so that it’s an integral part of the employee learning experience from recruitment and onboarding to mentoring and manager enablement. Incorporating diversity and inclusion curriculum as part of the L&D roadmap throughout the employee lifecycle is the next frontier for tackling unconscious bias. Rather than discussing it, there are more than enough opportunities to take action and affect change each step of the way. So let’s get to work.