Look around you. How diverse are you? No really, how diverse are you?
You think you are diverse, you think you are not biased. You are. We all are. It’s perfectly natural.
How do you choose your friends? That’s bias. It’s also natural. The problem is that we bring that bias into the workplace. We recruit in our own image. We recruit people we ‘like’. We recruit square pegs for square holes. It’s easier. Even if it takes a while. We reject people because ‘I can’t put my finger on it’, because ‘they are just not right for the culture of the team’, because they are not a ‘team fit’, because of ‘my gut feeling’. Sometimes in the recruitment process, we want the candidate to ‘meet the team’. In reality that action is to see if the bias is aligned.
True diversity is deaf and blind.
The challenge is that in most work environments people work in teams. Most of our daylight hours are spent at work. Therefore, it’s natural to want to work in a team environment where you feel comfortable. That is where your bias is.
I look around my office. I can see a small majority of women over men. I know I have colleagues with a range of sexual orientation, although I am unaware of anyone who is transgender. I know we have a multitude of ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs. I know we have people from privileged backgrounds, and others who were disadvantaged. I don’t think we have any employee that is registered disabled, although we have made ergonomic adjustments to work spaces for those with difficulties. I know we have neurodiverse colleagues, mainly those that are dyslexic as they are such good communicators. We have a range of shapes, heights, tattoos, facial hair, piercings and hairstyles that are representative of society and the markets we serve. We have Mums and Dads.
So at Aspire, I can look around. I can think we are diverse. Are we really? Look again; there is a fundamental missing link in regards to accurately reflecting the realities of the society that we live in. If you work in digital media, marketing communications, advertising or even recruitment, you will notice it too. Over 50s make up 31% of the UK’s workforce. That’s close to one in three. Look around you. Yes, I know. Where are they? So, we are not diverse.
We probably don’t even consider older people.
‘They won’t have the energy’, ‘they will be hard to train’, ‘they will want too much money’, ‘old dogs and all that’, ‘they will tell me what to do’, ‘they intimidate me’, ‘they will take my job’, ‘they can’t be successful if they want this job at this stage in their life’, ‘I’m not comfortable managing someone who could be my parents’ age’ or ‘it will change the team culture’.
Would we use this language around race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or disability?
So when recruiting, just remember that if you continue to discriminate against older people, you are fishing in a pool that you have shrunk by a third to start with. And one day, it will be you? So really, how diverse are you?
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