Current State

Increasing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) is the top human capital management priority for organizations in 2021, according to Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Outlook 2021 Study.

The first step is having a workforce that is aware of the unconscious biases we all have so they can try to mitigate their biases in interacting and collaborating with colleagues who are different from themselves. Only in the past two years have even half of organizations offered unconscious bias awareness training. Our research shows that 56% of employers offer it now.


Many organizations see unconscious bias awareness training as a solution. But it only provides a foundation for understanding unconscious bias and its impact. Organizations need employees with a more sophisticated understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion. Unconscious-bias mitigation is an ongoing process that never truly stops. The ultimate — and difficult — goal is for organizations to attain a culture of “unconscious inclusion” that enables organizations to fully realize the business benefits of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Development Programs Offered by Employers Related to Diversity and Inclusion

Employees at all levels of the organization must have exposure to a variety of experiences and interactions to learn how to collaborate inclusively with people who are different than themselves. Embedding diversity, equity and inclusion in every aspect of work is the best way, over time, to mitigate unconscious bias.


Organizations that fail to invest leadership, time, energy and resources into DE&I — starting with unconscious bias awareness training and building from there — are missing a unique opportunity to improve their organizational culture, business competitiveness, employee engagement and talent retention.

Critical Question

• How can we do a better job leading, managing and funding DE&I efforts to improve the impact?

• How can we do a better job creating awareness of unconscious bias and building a culture of selfawarenessthat empowers “unconscious inclusion”?

• How can we embed the values of DE&I in all levels of the organization?

Brandon Hall Group POV

Making everyone in the organization aware of unconscious bias — what it is, that we all have it, and steps to help mitigate bias in daily interactions — is a critical foundation that more organizations must embrace. Beyond that, here are three important high-level strategies:

Take a Holistic Approach The key to success with DE&I is to take a strategic attitude that touches all aspects of the organization. A holistic approach starts by establishing values across the organization, including trust and transparency. Those values and others must be communicated and demonstrated effectively and consistently so every individual understands the organization’s principles, and their roles and responsibilities to apply them to everything they do.

Make Everyone Accountable for Upholding DE&I Values Everyone in an organization has a responsibility to understand and support that organization’s values, principles, strategies and initiatives around DE&I. Leaders have a responsibility to ensure their team members understand and support DE&I. There are many ways for leaders to work with their employees on DE&I, ranging from encouragement to learn and understand, to specific goals related to how DE&I impacts their roles in the organization. Leaders can consistently advocate for individuals to challenge themselves to learn about the messages they are sending to others and how they are perceived.

Determine Where Biases Are Most Likely to Affect Your Organization Biases tend to affect who gets hired, who gets promoted, who gets raises and who gets what kind of work, among other things. By knowing where bias is most likely to creep in, you can create strategies and processes to mitigate them. For example, to guard against unconscious bias adversely impacting hiring, there are several steps you can take:

• Edit job descriptions or use technology to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process.

• Maintain anonymity of all distinguishing characteristics in a resume (e.g., name, gender) during candidate screening.

• Standardize the interview process. Unstructured interviews and inconsistent interview questions allow biases to seep in and lead to bad hiring decisions.


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Claude Werder

Claude Werder oversees Brandon Hall Group's analyst team, new product development, corporate development, the HCM Excellence Conference 2015, publishing, and social media and marketing strategies for Brandon Hall Group. In that role, he manages Brandon Hall Group’s research priorities, Membership Program and Member Center, and Brandon Hall Group’s exclusive KnowledgeBases of research data and HCM solution providers, services and products.