The 2022 international women’s day campaign theme is #BreakTheBias.
Now just imagine – for a brief minute –
A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
A world where difference is valued, celebrated, and heard.
For many of you, this will seem like a distant dream – but what can each of us do to make this more achievable?
With any global and systemic issue that is ingrained in everyday life, it takes small changes, owned by all individuals, each and every day to then lead to a deeper understanding, growth and, if we stick at it, change. We need to flip the board and the way that our world thinks.
International Women’s Day, on Tuesday 8th March 2022, should not be the only day you spend thinking about the inspiring women of history and today who have shaped this movement. Yes, read a book on women’s issues, empowerment, and achievements. Yes, start conversations with your colleagues and share your struggles. Yes, attend an online panel, but continue this all year round, each and every year. Continue to challenge the status quo, and continue to educate yourself and the people around you.
Here at Arthur, a PropTech company located in 3 countries, we are a global team made up of 32% women, with 18% of those women are in leadership positions. We need to do better.
This year, with a heavy focus on starting and developing DE&I initiatives -many of which link to biases surrounding this year’s IWD campaign – I would like to share a few of them with you today. This will hopefully not only spark conversations or inspire some of you to start or continue some of your own initiatives but it’s also for us, as a company, to stay accountable, open and honest about our journey.
Firstly, the saying “Knowledge is Power” rings true here. It was important to me to know our starting point, what our facts and figures are, what we were already doing as individuals and as a company, and what we could put in place.
Training for the team and increasing their knowledge and understanding is incredibly powerful. For everyone, hiring managers and leaders especially, to be aware of their unconscious bias. Unconscious biases are a part of us. Our brains can consciously process 40 pieces of information per second – while we unconsciously process 11 million pieces per second!
Just spend a moment taking that fact in.
With that amount of information swirling in our brains, we have had to create mental shortcuts to enable quicker and easier decision-making. In many instances, these shortcuts sadly do more harm than good.
So, for Arthur, we want to train our team to be aware of their unconscious bias and just how much influence it can have over our conscious decisions. Keeping it in check by firstly learning what unconscious biases are and assessing which are most likely to affect them as a person and Arthur as a company.
Hiring lends itself to a huge amount of unconscious biases. “First impressions are everything” as the saying goes. First impressions are not everything, but they are at the forefront of biases. A candidate’s name, education, gender, similarity, confirmation are all biases associated with hiring.
Edward Thorndike describes the “halo effect” bias as when one trait of a person is used to make an overall judgement of that person. At Arthur, our goal is to make hiring as objective as possible. We are developing a standardised structure that may include scorecards or set groups of questions to encourage more data-driven decisions.
To strive forward in hiring a diverse staff, we want to make sure that there is diversity amongst our interview panels. We won’t just stop at mixing up genders but will ensure that race, sexual orientation, skills and experience are fairly represented within the panel. This will not only provide a better candidate experience but will also help us avoid hiring based on shared biases and develop a well-rounded view of each candidate.
We want to encourage our team to speak up about biases and have an open dialogue where, if an employee realises a decision was influenced by an unconscious bias, they feel comfortable in speaking up and setting the record straight. We want to hold our team accountable and lead by example by setting diversity and inclusion goals that question our everyday biases.
I would love to keep you all up to date with our progress, initiatives and our journey to hopefully, one company at a time, break down the biases that are within us all. The quicker we realise that a company – and a world! – is a better place to be when we take proactive steps to overcome what is inevitably holding us back.