Bias-busting tips from talent leaders at SendGrid & Collective(i)

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4 mins, 33 secs read time

“The case for Diversity & Inclusion has been made,” asserts Pattie Money, Chief People Officer at SendGrid. “There’s data that tells the story of how much more successful companies are when they’re more diverse. So how do you get people to care?”

This was one of the hard-hitting questions our panelists covered in the “Navigating Diversity & Inclusion” webinar. Moderator Leslie Tyler, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Glider engaged Pattie and Urie Suhr, former Director of Talent Acquisition at Collective(i), in a lively discussion about busting bias and building more diverse and inclusive organizations.

Watch the on-demand recording of the webinar here, or keep reading for some key highlights and practical tips from their conversation.

3 women speakers from the Navigating Diversity and Inclusion webinar

What is unconscious bias?

Leslie kicked off the conversation by introducing the concept of unconscious bias, explaining that unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

The effects of unconscious bias can be harmful, but it’s also important to recognize that everyone is susceptible to this type of snap decision making.

Unconscious biases come from our very human desire to categorize the world to help to understand it. – Leslie Tyler, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Glider

The fact that we’re not aware of unconscious bias means that we need to look for ways to help people raise awareness and change their behavior to reduce the effects of this bias. Pattie says, “The first step to busting bias is to make people aware that it exists. The minute people become aware, they start monitoring their own behavior.”

How do you increase unconscious bias awareness in your organization?

At SendGrid, unconscious bias awareness begins during the onboarding process. All new hires are given a quiz to help them uncover some of their own beliefs. Anyone can take the Implicit Bias test from Harvard University here. Additionally, all managers at SendGrid have undertaken an unconscious bias training, and the People team is in the process of providing the same training for everyone throughout the organization. Another technique that’s worked well at SendGrid is putting on Diversity Week events and offering a series of fireside chats where employees from different backgrounds take time to share their stories. By providing a more comprehensive view of who they are, these employees help others to see them through more than one lens.

Giving people actual tools and ways to speak up has been critically important for us. – Pattie Money, Chief People Officer, SendGrid

Urie Suhr, former Director of Talent Acquisition at Collective(i), found that data provided a powerful way to illuminate some trends and patterns in the hiring process. By evaluating her talent pipeline, she began to understand why teams might be passing on candidates from different groups and helped people identify why they had made certain hiring decisions.

Which programs have made meaningful progress in creating a more diverse population within your organization?

When it comes to the hiring process, Urie believes it’s important to focus on your role descriptions. Word choice matters, since certain language can feel exclusionary. That’s why using a tool like Textio has helped the Collective(i) team keep tabs on the language they’re using in their job listings. Research has also shown that women are discouraged from applying for roles unless they meet 100% of the qualifications while men apply when they meet 60%, so it’s important to consider what you list as requirements for a role. Determine if some skills or experiences are “nice to haves” rather than “must haves” to broaden your potential candidate pool.

But it’s not just enough to change your hiring process—it’s also important to think about how people from different backgrounds will feel once they join your organization. "It’s very lonely to be an only,” says Pattie. That’s why it’s critical to think about creating a space where someone can feel comfortable if they’re different from the rest of their team. One tactic that’s worked really well at SendGrid is to empower employees to start Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). SendGrid’s approach has been to let employees take charge of forming and running ERGs, while providing support in terms of budget, time, and space for holding events.

If D&I; is a priority at your organization, Pattie recommends measuring where you stand and publishing your numbers. This can be a scary prospect, but the benefits are twofold. First, what’s measured gets acted on, and second, it shows the world that you care. When you send this message, you’re more likely to attract people who also care about working in a diverse and inclusive environment.

Building a diverse and inclusive company can begin with a focus on hiring and People programs, but in order to gain traction, it takes support from executives and employees at all levels. D&I; can’t be a single program—it needs to become ingrained in the company culture and touch all parts of the employee experience.

To get more practical tips and tricks from Pattie and Urie, watch the full on-demand webinar here.

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.