What do you do when your employer strays from its mission?
About one in eight employees cite their employer’s mission as the main reason they stay on the job, according to a recent survey of 36,348 workers by Comparably, a workplace culture and salary site. Companies often embrace lofty mission statements partly to retain workers, such as vowing “to inspire humanity” ( JetBlue ) or “to refresh the world in mind, body and spirit” ( Coca-Cola ).
However, intense pursuit of a mission can foster groupthink and resistance to change. Companies need naysayers to bring problems to light—even though speaking up can jeopardize their standing in the organization, or even their job.
A must read (paywall!).
Implicit bias is a trendy explanation for everyday discrimination. In the wake of high-profile bias incidents, companies and organizations often prescribe implicit bias training without knowing what actually caused the incident in question. And that, says some experts in the field, is a big problem. Implicit bias is subconscious thought. Although it might lead to discrimination, there’s no way to know without testing someone in a lab.
“Our whole discipline has no business explaining individual instances of behavior,” says Liz Redford, a consultant with the nonprofit Project Implicit, which does implicit bias research, education, and consulting.
Here’s the problem with the way the phrase gets bandied about: When a landlord uses Facebook’s ad targeting system to exclude Latinos and blacks from seeing apartment listings, or a lawyer harasses workers in a New York deli, that’s discrimination, which is behavior.
Jimmy Calanchini, a social psychologist at University of California, Riverside, says, “Every time another headline blames something on implicit bias, the other cognitive scientists and behavioral scientists in my social media circle do a collective eye roll.”
Cognitive scientists study trends and examine big-picture data to try and determine what we can learn about implicit bias on a societal level; there’s little research value to a handful of incidents. And even if the experts could agree that implicit bias is indeed the sole cause of headline-grabbing discrimination, they don’t necessarily agree on what to do about it.
It’s better to focus on policies that spell out acceptable and unacceptable behaviors instead of trying to shame people into struggle against unconscious biases.
And I love this anecdote:
[Liz] Redford recounts the example of the Boston Symphony, which wanted to hire more women and began offering blind auditions in 1952. The belief was this would help judges overcome their biases against female musicians. But it didn’t work: The symphony still only seemed to hire men. Finally, someone realized the problem: The tapping of heels gave the female candidates away. A new policy asked candidates to remove their shoes before auditions. Suddenly, the gender imbalance began to correct itself.