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Tips: Promoting inclusive behaviours at the workplace

  • Posted on June 9, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

Inclusion at the workplace is a priority for all of us at Avanade, but we know it is not straightforward to achieve. It requires consistent and deliberate efforts to promote an inclusive and bias-free workplace. Sometimes, our bias affects our efforts to be truly inclusive. Likeability, attribution, and affinity biases are among the most common biases people encounter in the workplace. 

Arun and Wee Tiong, Avanade’s Southeast Asia Inclusion and Diversity Committee Members, share some tips on how we can manage common biases at the workplace.

Tip No. 1: Practice thoughtfulness when organizing team-bonding activities
It’s not uncommon for colleagues to have meals together or hang out after working hours for team bonding and networking purposes. Social activities outside of the workplace help foster a sense of belonging and build professional relationships. 

When organizing these activities, consider if there are colleagues in the team with non-work commitments, specific dietary needs or requirements, or cultural commitments to ensure they are not excluded or discouraged from joining. Make sure that you expressly invite everyone to join these sessions. By making small thoughtful changes or modifications, we can ensure that work events are inclusive of our colleagues.

Tip No. 2: Eliminating bias at the interview process 

Outside of Avanade, we’ve heard of personal stories from peers who have experienced prejudice and bias when interviewing for an open role. For example, some hiring managers seek a specific type of candidate for a particular role – showing preference to men or single women because they are concerned that working mothers may not be able to commit themselves to work and are easily distracted. 

To eliminate this form of bias and prejudice, hiring managers need to avoid asking interview questions that are irrelevant to the role – and instead focus on capability, skills and the potential to grow. 

At Avanade, we have License to Hire, a global interviewer training program. Available to all consultants and above across Avanade, this training program is a terrific learning opportunity for all of us to enhance interviewing skills, manage biases and prejudices, as well as types of interview questions to focus on and avoid.

Tip No. 3: Respecting flexible working hours
The pandemic has accelerated hybrid and remote work arrangements – which can hard to adjust to, initially, for many of us. We’ve seen news articles and reports highlighting how the pandemic has exacerbated gender inequality, especially for women at home and in the workforce, as well as created longer working hours that impacted people’s wellbeing and mental health. 

As more people adopt flexible working hours, we too need to be respectful of people’s boundaries, every person’s need to disconnect, and individual working styles. We need to enable everyone in our teams to be their best and do their best work.

For example: Communicate clear expectations, priorities, and deadlines – particularly if there is an urgent task that needs to be tackled. If you are working flexibly (like a four-day work week), communicate your working hours and availability clearly to your teammates. 

If you prefer working outside the traditional 9-5, it is important that you do not expect colleagues to respond within your preferred working schedule. At Avanade, many of us include a simple statement in our email signatures stating: “At Avanade, we work flexibly. I’m sending this message now because it suits me. I do not expect that you will read, respond to, or otherwise act on it outside of your regular work hours.”

In summary…
Biases are influenced by our cultural environment, background, and personal experience. It is a hard topic to explain and define. Some might even think, “If it is something unconscious, then how do we even know that it exists?” Being aware of and talking about some common biases raises our awareness and promotes more inclusive behaviours.

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