This week was our Group People Culture Week at Capgemini, a week of focus on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) to outline Capgemini’s perspective on people culture, raise awareness of our natural and unconscious biases and how we mitigate them, and celebrate International Women’s Day and accomplishments of women globally. Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability, Communications, HR and other communities of people partnered to execute both in person and virtual events globally and locally.
As the intensity winds down, I’ve taken some time to reflect on our People Culture journey. I’m sure many global companies can relate to having a growing sense that there is an ever evolving opportunity to engage employees through inclusion, improve diversity in leadership, and grow cultural competencies across the workforce. Making progress on D&I is quite a balancing act between influencing behavior change and measuring the impact of behavior change in business. Around the Capgemini Group, various initiatives are underway to address this balancing act in business. At Capgemini in North America we decided to start with addressing the value in shifting behaviors before defining workforce diversity goals. For us, this was a combination of training on unconscious bias and increased opportunities for engagement through our Employee Resource Groups. Unconscious bias is simply our hidden, automatic, natural people preferences. We are hard-wired to prefer people who are similar to ourselves based on commonalties. This categorization based on preference occurs before our brain starts to conduct rational and logical thinking. We use these processes very effectively in some of our decision making (e.g., knowing we should run when we see a lion in the wild), yet in a global market where we interact with difference constantly we need to enable ourselves to mitigate our bias for familiar.
As part of People Culture Week, we recently finished a Q&A session on Twitter with Howard Ross, a leading expert on Unconscious Bias. We not only explored unconscious bias but shared actions we can take to actually reduce bias in our behaviors. Howard also facilitated our Corporate and Senior Vice President training on the same topic in December 2014. If you are interested, I’d recommend reading Howard’s thought paper, Everyday Bias for examples of unconscious bias and tips to reduce bias in business. Engaging with a community outside of your normative network is one tip to reduce bias. Interestingly, implementing this training actually led to increased participation in Employee Resource Groups through executive sponsorship and membership. While I can’t say that this was the only contributing factor, I can say that our engagement scores increased in 2014 for the questions we tie to whether employees feel a part of the team compared to 2013. Chipping away at shifting behaviors helped us build executive momentum with setting the right D&I goals for our business!
Our unconscious bias session on social media during our internal People Culture Week seems to have been extremely well timed. In the last few days a video from the Ad Council called Love Has No Labels has been trending on multiple social media channels. The video, just like unconscious bias training, challenges us to rethink bias in all our interactions. Begging the question - if we only saw each other as skeletons would we make different decisions in who we hire, who we coach, who we fight for during promotion reviews, and who we staff on our teams?
Perhaps the next innovative leap in the intersection between D&I and technology is in x-ray glasses…