impressions of others and in measuring empathy,” also lights
up, leading toward unconscious decision-making.
We are all wired for unconscious bias – even those who are
dedicated to equality. Without even realizing it we’re making
judgments about others, which are influencing our decisions.
At work, this plays out in hiring, promoting, mentoring and
Bias and the bottom line
Research also tells us that “being around people who are
different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and
harder-working.” This is, in part, because our brains have to
work a little harder.
When someone presents a fresh viewpoint – or even a
similar viewpoint from a different lens – we tend to pay
closer attention. Diversity disrupts intellectual autopilot and
causes us to be more engaged and aware.
Also, diversity is good for the bottom line. According to a
study by McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for racial
and ethnic diversity are more likely to have above-average
financial returns. A study by the University of California, Davis,
found that “among the 25 firms with the highest percentage
of women executives and board members, researchers found
that median returns on assets and equity in 2015 were at least
74 per cent higher than among the overall group of companies
There are also exciting opportunities for mentorship
across generations. Findings from one study show that 96
per cent of Millennials believe “Boomers bring substantial
experience and knowledge to the workplace.” Likewise, 90
per cent of Boomers believe “Millennials bring new skills and
ideas to the workplace.”
Awareness and action for change
If we’re wired for bias, how do we change? First, continue
learning about unconscious bias and watch for it in yourself
and within your teams.
Second, measure. If in a leadership position, take an
honest look at your company’s organization chart. Do you
see much of the same? Don’t be fooled by a few diverse
employees peppered throughout – objectively analyze the
Third, set real metrics. Aim not just for a “more diverse
workplace,” or “more women and people of colour on the
board.” Instead, set measurable goals like 50 per cent women
and 50 per cent non-white. When real numbers are attached
to the goals, you’ll be amazed at your team’s ability to find
solutions and create best practices to get your company
closer to those goals.
Fourth and finally, check in with yourself. Do you notice
that you listen more to the people on your team who are
like you? Do you find yourself mentally dismissing opinions
that don’t validate your own? Awareness needs to be paired
with action. Invite people who aren’t like you to contribute;
give opportunities to someone who is deserving, but maybe
wasn’t your first pick; and encourage others on your team to
seek out and foster divergent thinking rather than falling into
We may be wired for bias, but we aren’t destined for it.
There is a brighter, more diverse, more creative and more
effective workforce ahead. It’s up to us to make it happen.
Ron Price is an internationally recognized business advisor,
executive coach, speaker and author who has worked in 15
countries and served in nearly every level of executive management
over the past 40 years. The former president of a
multi-million-dollar international company, in 2004 he started
Price Associates, a global leadership advisory firm.
Stacy Ennis is a creative consultant, success coach, speaker and
writer, as well as the co-founder of Next Level Women Leaders,
a leadership training company. The former executive editor of
Healthy Living Made Simple, a magazine reaching roughly
11 million readers, she has written or edited dozens of books,
including The Editor’s Eye (2013).
Read their co-authored leadership fiction, Growing Influence:
A story of how to lead with character, expertise, and impact,
now available for purchase. For more information please visit
When real numbers are attached to the goals, you’ll be amazed at
your team’s ability to find solutions and create best practices to
get your company closer to those goals.
62 Q4 2019 www.pilingcanada.ca