This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2020 Growth Through People campaign.
Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2020 this involves 8 free workshops taking place between 2nd March and 27th March, culminating in a full-day Growth Through People conference on 2nd April. In addition, throughout the campaign the Chambers will be publishing thought leadership podcasts, videos and blog content such as this.
Thanks to our Headline Sponsors – Prime Accountants Group, Aston University, Curium Solutions and CIPD - all workshops are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more and register to attend Growth Through People workshops here, and the Growth Through People conference here.
Every single day we make hundreds of decisions – not all of them the right ones. As humans, our decision-making process is heavily influenced by our primary, innate biases which operate in a parallel world to our rational and logical thought processes. Unconscious bias is rife in the workplace where our background, previous experiences, societal stereotypes and cultural context, directly impact the decisions we make without us even realizing it.
So, the question becomes how do we move from unconscious bias to conscious inclusion?
Conscious inclusion means not just creating initiatives but creating a culture where people can speak out and raise awareness of unacceptable behaviour.
As a fundraiser for the children’s charity Adoption Focus, I am very aware of the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion. For me, it’s two-fold – firstly I want to represent the communities I work in and the donors I work with. Secondly, and for me this is possibly even more important – there is no perfect profile of an adopter.
The children referred to us come from Local Authorities all over the country, this results in adopted young people coming from a wide range of cultures, geographical and socioeconomic backgrounds. We need adopters from all backgrounds and cultures in order to meet these children’s needs.
There’s also the fact that I am part of two groups that have often been discriminated – I’m disabled and part of the LGBTQ+ community. Maybe this is another driver for me wanting to work in places who really take inclusion seriously? Not just those using it as a token gesture to keep the masses happy.
Recognising biases and blockages is one thing; doing something about them is another. When tackled effectively however, efforts to foster inclusion can have tremendous outcomes.
As an adoption charity we work closely with New Family Social, the only national LGBTQ+ adoption and fostering charity in the UK and have recently received whole staff training around LGBTQ+ adoption. This training looked at good practice, Understanding the LGBT+ community and why they are important for adoption – currently 1 in 7 adoptions in the UK are by the LGBTQ+ community.
The fact is awareness of unconscious bias on its own is not enough. There needs to be a drive towards inclusive actions. Moving from a framework of avoiding unconscious bias to a mindset of cultivating conscious inclusion in leaders.
In my current role I’m pretty confident in saying that Adoption Focus is definitely in the latter group, we cultivate conscious inclusion in not only our managers but all of our teams. The training we received from New Family Social was an important use of staff time in order to create a culture of curiosity, courage, and interpersonal connection.
Our diverse team is more creative, productive, and innovative, and is better at problem-solving and decision-making because of the variety of perspectives and experiences represented. After all, successful workplace inclusion is more than just a hiring decision; it’s a commitment to fostering a culture that unlocks the full potential of each individual in a team.