Pamela Fuller is the Global Managing Client Partner on the Public Sector team and Thought Leader on Inclusion & Bias at FranklinCovey. She is also a speaker and co-author of The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias: How to Reframe Bias, Cultivate Connection and Build High-Performing Teams. Her passion for issues of inclusion has fueled her commitment to diversity and the empowerment of historically marginalized groups, which have always been factors in her personal and professional endeavors. She joins Marcel Schwantes today to talk about how leaders and team members can challenge their unconscious biases to promote a healthier organizational culture.
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- According to a study done by Deloitte Human Capital Trends, only 12% of the 71% of companies that aspire to have an inclusive and diverse culture actually have practices in place to reach that goal, Marcel cites. Leaders and team members are often primed to rely on their unconscious bias, which impedes the creation of inclusive and diverse environments. [1:15]
- Bias permeates all important decisions in the talent lifecycle, including how people are hired, how work is delegated, and how people move through the ranks or build their influence, Pamela shares. “Even as organizations push diversity efforts… they struggle to retain and promote diverse talent,” she comments. “[This is why] in many organizations, we still see a large gap between the diversity at the front line and the diversity at the leadership table.” [6:42]
- Biases affect people financially as well as psychologically. In Western society, biases against body image are so severe that there is a 10.5% decrease in pay for every 1% increase in a woman’s body mass. Even babies that are perceived as “pretty” are spoken to twice as much as babies who are considered “unpretty,” which gives them an unfair social advantage. [8:29]
- Pamela shares how other people’s unconscious biases have affected her, as a colored woman, during her professional career and how she was forced to overcome them. Being subjected to other people’s biases places you in the limiting zone, she explains, where conditions do not exist for you to perform at your best. [12:37]
- “We often take any sort of difference and penalize it, rather than addressing the reality that people are different, because it’s more convenient for us,” Pamela remarks. [19:11]
- Organizations with a diverse C-suite and board of directors post better financial results because of their different experiences. Having a team of people with different experiences promotes innovation because there will be variety in the ways problems are solved and solutions are thought up. [24:08]
- “We have natural empathy when we see similarities,” Pamela claims. “It’s part of the hardwiring of the brain. Empathy is the interpersonal art of connection, a natural vibration that we feel with people.” [29:28]
- Marcel asks Pamela how leaders can identify their biases. When we engage with people and our biases act up, they are almost always based on strong feelings with no little to no evidence. One thought exercise that helps with identifying biases is a mental T chart, with one column being ‘fact’ and the other being ‘feelings.’ The exercise forces you to think about what evidence you have to validate your assumptions and match them to a column. It challenges your value and belief system, but it doesn’t happen overnight, Pamela warns. [32:29]
- “Many of the behaviors we recommend for building an inclusive organization are really about blowing up the organizational hierarchy,” Pamela says. “Recognize that a leader at the top can talk to somebody at the front line. It’s the way to cultivate connection in the organization and give everyone a voice.” [37:46]
- Pamela Fuller on LinkedIn | Twitter
- Pamela’s Personal Blog
- The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias: How to Reframe Bias, Cultivate Connection and Build High-Performing Teams
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