According to a new survey from the Center for Talent Innovation, employees who perceive bias at work are more likely to withhold ideas and solutions from their team and criticize their employer on social media. They are also less likely to say they feel proud of where they work. The survey reveals some possible solutions to bias in the workplace. It shows that employees perceive less bias when they have sponsors who help them maintain a relationship with top management and when their company has diverse leadership.
Certain fields in academia report more racial and sexual harassment than others. Based on Professor Andrei Cimpian’s research, one reason may be that characteristics such as brilliance are highly valued in certain fields like philosophy and physical sciences, and those characteristics are stereotypically linked with white men. A recent survey by the University of Illinois found that 40 percent of women of color in the field of astronomy and planetary science said they felt unsafe in the workplace due to harassment, and a third of white men reported overhearing sexist and racist remarks at work.
A good example of why diversity in the top ranks is essential for any company: the marketing agency Ogilvy & Mather recently released a Chinese ad for the car maker Audi featuring a Chinese grandmother ‘inspecting’ her soon-to-be daughter-in-law as if the young woman were a potential car purchase. Both Ogilvy & Mather and Audi have primarily white male board members, and no one to tell them the ad was both sexist and racist. DiversityInc magazine makes the further point that even companies who tout values of diversity in their marketing, like Nike, are sometimes concealing the lack of diversity on their boards.
Religion is often times overlooked in business diversity plans. Employers are sometimes wary of approaching the topic because they lack the knowledge to address the religious needs of all employees. Some employers, like Total, prepare optional documentation for anyone curious about colleagues “who might not eat, dress or pray the same” as they do. As the former chief diversity officer at Merck & Co., Deb Dagit points out that even just planning for alternative holidays like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa can make a big difference. A Muslim employee at Accenture explains why religious inclusion is so important: the accommodations “show me that I’m valued, and not just for my contributions as an employee, but also for who I am underneath all of that.”