Address unconscious bias to reduce turnover, boost diversity

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Turnover is costly for organizations, in time, money and productivity. The national annual average is 9.8*. In an organization of 4,000 employees, this translates into 400 new employees a year, and 1,200 (30% of the total employee base) in a three year period.

These numbers directly feed into the perception of HR as a cost centre and not a revenue raiser in many organizations, as recruitment costs can weigh heavily on the bottom-line.

Pamela Young, author of Stepping Up, believes that through optimizing diversity to achieve growth, this turnover rate can be reduced greatly. However, before tackling the diversity issue, organizations must be aware of the unconscious assumptions that dwell at the surface of organizational cultures.

Evidence suggests that Canada has come to a standstill in workplace diversity, particularly around established diversity areas such as gender. Geoffrey Court, head of people and culture at Salmat – an organization which boasts a Woman In Leadership Council among other diversity initiatives – told HRM many organizations are struggling.

“It’s hit a plateau in the last 10 years; women aren’t advancing any faster … some big changes have been made, but some even bigger ones have yet to be made,” he said.

Young stated that organizations must first address the four cultural bind spots before embarking on diversity innovations:

The power of assumptions
While many organizations will combat attitudes and behaviours they view in the organization, this does not get to the underlying issue. Beneath the surface, these behaviours are driven by unseen cultural assumptions.

“Sustainable permanent change can only be achieved when the assumptions that drive attitudes and behaviors are revealed, challenged and aligned with your goals,” Young explained.

On Page 2: Visibility, culture and HR


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