How Diversity and Inclusion Go Beyond Bias

Part Two – Why Bother with Bias?

How Diversity and Inclusion Go Beyond Bias

In polite relaxed conversation I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone defending the merits of bias, just as you’d not likely see a new way of thinking that reverses the global trend of building diverse and inclusive (D&I) organisations.

The evidence continues to grow that those organizations creating the best use of D&I are rewarded with positive business results. Dr. David Rock lists the following:

  • 506 U.S.-based companies: Firms with highest level of racial diversity generated 15 times more sales on than those with the lowest levels. (Herring, 2009)
  • S&P 1500: Firms with females in the C-Suite generated $44 million more (Dezso & Ross, 2011)
  • Global analysis of 2400 companies: Those with at least 1 female board member had consistently superior share price performance, 4% higher return on equity, and 4% higher net income growth. (Credit Suisse, 2012)
  • Adding women to all-male teams increases the teams’ group intelligence, which accounts for 40% of performance on a wide range of tasks, greater than the impact of individual IQ.) Woolley, Chabris, Pentland, Hashmi, & Malone 2009)

Dr. Rock has drawn conclusions about Diversity & Inclusion, which include:

  • Multiple perspectives improve problem solving and creativity
  • Reduces mindless conformity
  • Raises team intelligence by increasing social intelligence



The Persisting Paradox of Bias

Each member of our storied senior team was carefully chosen for this project as a high potential candidate within their company. They were experienced and had a vested interest in a positive result.

So what went terribly wrong?

Turns out they behaved just like most of us would in a similar situation.

That is according to research findings from the 2009 work of Katherine W. Phillips, Katie A. Liljenquist and Margaret A. Neale and the article published by Kellogg School of Management, Architecture of Collaborations Oct 1, 2010, Better Decisions Through Diversity.

The researchers came to several conclusions about mysterious nature of decisions and diversity. Selected exerts include:

  • “While homogenous groups feel more confident in their performance and group interactions, it is the diverse groups that are more successful in completing their tasks.”
  • “Though people often feel more comfortable with others like themselves, homogeneity can hamper the exchange of different ideas and stifle the intellectual workout that stems from disagreements.”
  • “ In diverse settings, people tend to view conversations as a potential source of conflict that can breed negative emotions”
  • “A diverse group’s members will typically feel less confident about their progress largely due to the lack of homogeneity.”
  • Homogeneous groups, on the other hand, were more confident in their decisions, even though they were more often wrong in their conclusions.

The article in Architecture of Collaboration goes on to state,” In non-diverse groups, Phillips says, “often times the disagreements are just squelched so people don’t really talk about the issue. They come out of these groups really confident that everybody agreed when in fact not everybody agreed. There were new ideas and different opinions that never got discussed in the group.”

“Standard unconscious bias training has had minimal impact on diversity metrics. Awareness is not creating enough change. Most biases occur unconsciously. Education doesn’t change that.” Dr. David Rock, NeuroLeadership Institute

Inuous Solutions

Our experience and expertise is in drawing out the best performance from global D&I teams. We acknowledge that awareness is the first needed step. Creating new ways of working for the teams to experience is how they will reinforce the new lessons and embed them in a business context. These shared experiences become the cornerstone of new habits that generate lasting benefit for the team.

How Inuous Locks in the Lessons

  1. See it – Create Awareness: Our action learning style surfaces the teams disconnects, highlights the successful ways of working and illuminates the derailed dysfunctional behavior during our fun, captivating and highly engaging process.
  2. Understand it – Surface Learning: Our facilitated learning process surfaces all lessons in a clear and undeniable methodology, which allows genuine reflection of the team to pull out the most memorable moments and understand their value to current performance challenges.
  3. Apply it – Actions in Business Context: Inuous facilitated actions drive the learning to an experience level that unites the team by building new skills, which       translate into habits that deliver the desired outcomes. Here’s how we helped a team become more productive:

The Overly Polite Team: Silent and Violent

The organization was undergoing important change programs, which required the leaders to model resilience and unite the teams through bringing out the best ideas and innovations.

Conflict quickly ensued, which two senior leaders discovered they were unprepared to handle during the increased speed and uncertainty of the change initiatives.

They had choices.

What choice would you make?

What choice have you actually made?

Our leaders did not know how to handle conflict, so they assumed ignoring the issues would work and the change initiative would wipe away any lingering challenges. Besides, no one will ever notice.

Time heals all wounds, right?

Their choice to ignore the issues, to error on the side of politeness put them and the teams they led on a continual collision course with conflict!

Unintended outcomes swiftly accumulated:

  • Politeness was replaced by resentment between the two senior leaders
  • Cooperation ended between the leaders and their teams.
  • Silent and violent silos became the unspoken cultural norms
  • Paralysis gripped innovation and decision making
  • Rumors replaced reason in the workplace

               Conflict is a normal and natural behavioral reaction to change and uncertainty

How Inuous transforms D&I conflict into organizational strength and resilience through learning conversations that include:

  • Start understanding and stop needing to be right
  • Replace judgment and blame, which is about protecting a position, with empathy, which is about opening to learning about another’s point of view
  • Shift from certainty to curiosity. Learn why an individual’s position is important to them and how they envision it working
  • Learn how your own intended actions may have been perceived and experienced by another. What silent assumptions have others made about you that have led their actions that are visible to you?
  • Articulate your own actions and conclusions so that they make sense to someone else. The switch. Now what needs to be done and how can you develop better communication habits to avoid future breakdowns?

Remember: Understanding does not mean agreement

Surfacing hidden bias leads to clarity, which allows you to come to an agreement