Recorded on 10th Jul 2020, these were the key points raised in the conversation:
- Companies need to act on the tsunami of change created by George Floyd’s death and Covid-19
- Blind recruitment is a temporary plaster
- The pipeline problem
- Leadership and listening.
Companies need to act on the tsunami of change created by George Floyd’s death and Covid-19
Both the brutality of George Floyd’s murder and the disproportionate impact Covid-19 has had on people from BAME backgrounds have stirred the sense of injustice that exists in the world. “If I think about the last four or five weeks, I’ve spoken more about race and my experiences and what we need to do about it than I have done in my entire life,” said Aggie Mutuma of the Mahogany Inclusion Partners. “People want to understand, people are listening. It’s really important that we take this energy and actually turn it into action.”
Blind recruitment is a temporary plaster
How a company sets up its recruitment process, the language used in adverts and the interview panel itself can all contribute to unconscious bias against people from BAME backgrounds. Often applicants are assessed on their experience rather than just their skill set, locking inequality into the process from the very beginning. Blind recruitment can alleviate some of these issues allowing companies to have the right amount of information to make a fair judgement but as Aggie cautions, it’s just “a temporary plaster on a big issue.”
Unconscious bias training is another option to blind recruitment. “One of the greatest tricks the devil played was by letting people believe that he didn’t exist,” Aggie told us. “When people think racism doesn’t exist it’s really dangerous. Unconscious bias teaches people that we all have biases and people have to understand what biases you might have and how to extrapolate that out of decisions you might make.”
There are clearly benefits to offering unconscious bias training but companies need to think about their actions and how to make it part of the wider conversation. Aggie cautioned that “just giving people unconscious bias training won’t change anything. The learning and development has to be baked into processes.”
Leadership and listening
Throughout the session it was clear that a lot of the issues raised boil down to whether a company has good leadership. Aggie said that leaders can help initiate change by being open, being curious, being vulnerable, and knowing that they don’t know everything.
Rather than just talking about it, it’s important for leaders to acknowledge they’ve got to actually work for this problem to be solved. “Understanding that I benefited from privilege and that privilege has come at a cost to someone else unfairly is a difficult emotional journey but every leader needs to go through that journey,” Josh said. “It takes action, being systematic and being determined.”