Blog : BOARD TALK
|Posted on October 18, 2016 at 5:20 PM|
The UK's Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is essentially a lobbying group for business. It sees itself as "the UK's premier business organisation" whose purpose is "helping business create a more prosperous society."
So, when it suggests "Businesses should consider using name-blind recruitment and extending competency based assessment to challenge unconscious bias" you might think that's a good idea - but hey, many UK firms are already doing it.
Name-blind recruitment was agreed last year by employers like the Civil Service and the NHS under David Cameron's government. It is also practised by companies like Deloitte, KPMG, Virgin Money and others.
But when the press release from the CBI landed in my inbox I, for one, was stunned. Not because it is isn't a great idea - but because when a body like the CBI feels the need to issue such an appeal it's a damning - and very public- acknowledgement of the reality of Britain today.
Paul Dreschler, President CBI
Here's some of what Mr Dreschler said on Monday in a speech to the Engage for Success Conference in London:
"Great business is all about hiring, developing and leading great people. With UK productivity second from bottom of the G7, employee engagement is now more than ever crucial to driving productivity. But here too there’s a problem. Of the world’s 12 largest economies the UK ranks ninth for levels of engagement.(my emphasis)
“Raising engagement isn’t about slapping another zero on the budget for the staff Christmas party. It’s a complex process which takes time and hard work.
“Inclusive workplaces give firms the chance to get ahead of their competitors by making better decisions, through diverse teams which draw on a wider range of ideas and experiences. Companies that place inclusion at their heart are better able to secure the skills that their competitors miss out on and better able to keep the people their competitors lose."
I found everything he said to be compelling - but then I have written repeatedly about inclusion, race, ethnicity, diversity and about engagement - in both this blog (the search engine works) and on Forbes since September 2013.
We are very coy about tackling the issues of race in this country. I have a unique perspective because I am British, but I am 100% Indian born. My name would not tell you that, and my appearance probably would not either - I delightfully get asked if I hail from all sorts of countries and I am a product of three excellent universities, two of them famously British. So I think of myself - increasingly, since June 24th - as a global citizen.
But if in the UK (where I have lived since I was 20) we do not acknowledge there is a problem - and repeated research, some of which is mentioned again in this piece, suggests there is, then we will not resolve it.
“Inclusion isn’t a minority issue, it’s a majority issue that can benefit all people and all firms. Ultimately, every employee can benefit from more flexible working and better decision-making. This is the real business case for inclusion and making progress means asking fundamental questions about how we work" said Mr Dreschler.
That's the tactical businessman speaking, I would say - let's not let the issue die by referring to it as merely a 'minority issue' because it does have an impact on the working of every business as a whole, and its productivity.
But we also have to ask, in our hearts, how much we believe this very convenient 21st century term that covers a multitude of sins: 'unconscious bias' ?
And how honest are we about what we think - and how open are we to being educated about ourselves to think and behave differently about talent in the workplace.
Time for Action: the business case for inclusive workplaces - CBI London October 17, 2016