Bias: Diversity and Inclusion Trends 2020 – by Soumaya Khalifa

D&I – Intentionality

It’s exciting to start a new year and a new century with the hopes that this year will be better and offer many opportunities.  The work in Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) must be intentional and not a one-time activity to check-off the box. Successful organizations in the field tend to have D&I as part of their organizational DNA just like safety.  Some trends for this year include: intentionality and understanding for the business case for D&I, increase in unconscious bias awareness, and the expanding of the Muslim ban on its impact in the workplace. 

Recently I was having conversation with a leader about his organization.  He started off by telling me how diverse his organization is, mostly from ethnicity perspective.  He went on to add that he is very proud of this diversity.  When asked about inclusion, he said that they worked together very well and he does not see any reasons to do anything about inclusion.  Diversity is a great thing but when leaders and organizations do not intentionally work to make their employees feel that they care about them, then diversity might not be so positive.  This same leader later shared that his retention rate is not what they hoped it to be.  The example of this leader is not unique.  Leaders and organizations need to understand the business case for D&I and not just check-off a box. 

Another trend is the raising the awareness about unconscious bias and its implications in the workplace.  While watching a game show with a 5-year-old.  Unconscious bias came so clear to me.  The 5-year-old boy shared that he wanted to male contestant to win the game.  When I asked him why did he choose the male contestant, he said he thinks that boys are smarter and the male contestant must win.  The reply can be just a 5-year-old boy reply, but to me it carried a bigger picture.  What do children learn from a young age and what unconscious bias we carry with us and don’t even know we have it?  Children grow up to be adults and our employees.  If unconscious biases are left unchecked, all sorts of workplace issues arise. 

Last trend is the “Muslim Ban” and the addition of 6 more countries to it.  This Ban carries so much negativity to the 10 million American Muslims and for people who are not Muslims but are perceived to be such as the Sikhs or Christian Arabs.  Many feel it gives their employers, schools, neighbors the license to discriminate just because of the way they choose to worship.  We have seen this with such EEOC lawsuits as the  EEOC v. Abercrombie and Fitch (headscarf) and EEOC v. McDonald’s Restaurants of California, Inc (growing a beard).  In 2015, three young college students in North Carolina were killed by their neighbor because of their faith (Islam) and authorities classified it as a parking dispute.

A 2015 McKinsey report on why diversity matters examined 366 public companies and looked at those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management. These companies were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean. In addition, those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean. See Harvard Business Review on Why Diverse Teams are Smarter.  Diversity and Inclusion impact organizations’ bottom line and it is not just a feel good thing to do. 

Soumaya Khalifa

One thought on “Bias: Diversity and Inclusion Trends 2020 – by Soumaya Khalifa”

  1. This is an insightful article with vivid examples that would help anyone who still doesn’t understand bias. The writer also provides training through her examples to those who are stuck with diversity without understand that diversity is not enough, that it’s in fact, for shows; while meaning inclusion fosters belonging and the windows for meaning engagement, that are beneficial as she cited Harvard Business Review on Why Diverse Teams are Smarter and more productive than homogeneous group.

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