Reducing bias in people is a fundamentally different challenge to reducing bias in processes and policies. While addressing unconscious bias within processes often requires a mitigating approach, the key to cultivating inclusion mindsets within people is to focus on where you want to go.
At Pulsely, we see that individuals - and how they communicate, interact, manage and lead - play a massive role in facilitating or inhibiting a culture of inclusion. But how do you know how and where to focus your DEI training to advance people in ways that will make a real difference in your culture?
You set out to understand the invisible nuances in how inclusion is driven by day-to-day interactions between your employees, particularly the prevalent mindsets, beliefs and attitudes in your culture when it comes to bias and inclusion, and then you focus on motivating development at each level of perspective.
How To Identify Competencies Your Team Needs To Develop
That’s why as part of our overall inclusion framework analysis, we conduct an Inclusion Competencies survey. This measures how each employee’s beliefs and attitudes impact how they show up and interact in your workplace. It assesses whether employees are internally aligned with the intrinsic values of diversity and inclusion and whether they embody the values of your organization.
This enables you to identify where in your cultural ecosystem you are stronger and weaker, and what skills you need to focus on with training efforts to develop teams and individuals to increase overall inclusion performance.
The seven Inclusion Competencies we assess, in quick summary, are:
- Learning From Others - one’s ability to see they impact upon others and one’s willingness to learn from other perspectives
- Cultural Intelligence - whether one sees how culture influences values and behaviors that impact the workplace, ability to see beyond ‘one’ right way
- Willingness To Adapt - the degree to which one will adapt their own behaviors to foster inclusion and create new workplace dynamics
- Courage to Engage - willingness to go beyond one’s comfort zone and have the necessary difficult conversations
- Awareness of Systemic Bias - one’s level of awareness of flaws in the system that need to be addressed and ability to see it’s not a true meritocracy
- Addressing Bias - the degree of personal responsibility one takes to recognize the impact of bias and mitigate it
- Allyship - whether one supports and champions those different to oneself and fosters productive conversations
By taking stock of where individuals, teams and the organizational workforce stands as a whole across these different competencies, you will begin to understand your workforce’s baseline and the gaps where you need to build up the competencies of inclusion.
How To Identify Mindsets of Inclusion
Beyond understanding individual Inclusion Competencies at the level of attitudes and behaviors, it’s further clarifying to look at the big picture by mapping out what Inclusion Perspectives your employees hold: the mindsets and ways of seeing the workplace (world).
This is revealed by one’s overall Inclusion Competencies profile. And we’ve found four perceptual levels as one moves up the scale of inclusion competency:
- The Traditionalist - believes the system is a talent-based meritocracy that already provides equal opportunity and equal support to everyone
- The Observer - observes that some individuals are not moving up successfully based on merit alone, but sees strictly personal factors rather than systemic challenges as the cause
- The Connector - believes that despite everyone’s best intentions, there may be patterns of opportunity and advancement that are not equitable, and is more comfortable addressing this in small groups than challenging “the system”
- The Advocate - is intrinsically motivated to change the system and take risks to ensure more equitable outcomes
Knowing the prevalence and concentrations of Inclusion Perspectives across your teams and organization takes you beyond the question of ‘what kind of training?’ and into the territory of ‘what training approaches for whom?’.
DEI Training That Motivates Mindset Development
What particular Inclusion Perspective individuals hold matters for DEI training because we have found that what motivates the next level of development depends upon where one’s mindset is presently attuned. Effective DEI training meets people where they are and motivates growth from there.
Inclusion Perspectives are not fixed - and training, depending on how well it addresses the needs of an individual, can either evolve perspectives, achieve nothing or increase resistance.
For Traditionalists, growth is supported by objective data discussing the business case for inclusion and framed in the context of fairness. Here, growth is to see and acknowledge that workplace experiences differ for different demographic segments in ways that have nothing to do with ability..
For Observers, growth is supported by data-based insights that show patterns of how different groups advance in the workplace and through conversations that highlight the personal impacts of exclusion. Here, growth is to acknowledge that the workplace is not a level playing field and a commitment to not let talented employees fall by the wayside.
For Connectors, growth is supported by insights on unconscious bias and how to mitigate bias in the workplace. Here, growth is to acknowledge your own personal biases and to be more confident and vocal in confronting bias and supporting inclusion.
For Advocates, growth is supported by being inspired by role models and change agents that model how courage and vulnerability are fundamental to becoming more vocal and active in holding the organization accountable for inclusion.. Here, growth is inspired agency towards co-creating an equitable workplace.
When you realize that different current perspectives require different motivational levers to move the needle, you understand yet another layer of why unconscious bias training is not for everyone - often ineffective, and never enough.
How To Assess The Results of Your DEI Training
The way to know if your training is effective is to measure the impact upon your employees and how they demonstrate inclusion in the workplace. By measuring Inclusion Competencies and Inclusion Perspectives before and after training cycles, you will be able to see if the investment in training is up-leveling both mindsets and capacities for your employees to support inclusion.
Here are examples on how the seven Inclusion Competencies translate to inclusion in everyday action:
A manager who learns from others will engage in more open and curious questioning to bring in different points of view.
A manager who exhibits cultural intelligence will question their perception of the “right way” to do something and understand the views of different cultures.
A manager who shows willingness to adapt will realize that effective motivation requires different approaches for different individuals
A manager who has the courage to engage will proactively manage conflict over differences in perspective in a team discussion.
A manager who is aware of systemic bias will integrate and encourage the processes that are designed to mitigate personal bias.
A manager who addresses bias will challenge potential biases in discussion about talent, even when it’s against the grain.
A manager who practices allyship will champion employees from underrepresented groups, and question their own affinity bias..
Remember, DEI training is not a one-size-fits-all approach and takes many forms. For traditionalists and observers, it might include perspective-taking exercises that disrupt stereotypes. For observers and connectors, it might look like mutual mentoring or emphasizing a growth mindset. For advocates, it might look like stepping out of their comfort zone to speak up on behalf of others as inclusion agents.
The bottom line is that the DEI Training that will evolve your organization has an approach which validates that all perspectives make sense, but are incomplete on their own; when we intentionally engage different mindsets in ways they can relate to, we can effectively inspire each of them towards a culture of greater inclusion..