By Varnika Garg, Associate Product Manager

“Inclusion is the celebration of diversity put into action.”

The future of work is here! The unprecedented forces of the pandemic have disrupted and reshaped the way organizations and teams work today. While remote teams have become the new normal; it also means recognizing the need for changing organizational policies and paying attention to crucial issues. One of the biggest challenges faced by organizations, made even more stark by the pandemic, is the need for Diversity and Inclusivity.

The benefits of a diverse, equal and an inclusive work environment are numerous, and these diversity in the workplace statistics can prove it.

  • More than 50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity (Glassdoor)
  • 69% of executives believe that diversity and inclusion are the most critical issues (Deloitte)
  • Companies with higher-than-average diversity had 19% higher innovation revenues (Harvard Business Review)

Claudia Brind-Woody, VP and MD at IBM said,  “Inclusivity means not ‘just we’re allowed to be there,’ but we are valued. I’ve always said: smart teams will do amazing things, but truly diverse teams will do impossible things.”

Evidently, workplace diversity is one of the most crucial elements today. D&I initiatives make workplaces more successful and smarter, promote better employee wellbeing, and lead to increased job satisfaction and employee engagement levels.

How to Cultivate Diversity and Inclusivity 

The next biggest question for every organization is to identify where they are on their diversity efforts and how to cultivate a diverse and inclusive environment. 

If you are ready to assess your D&I efforts, the most effective tool would be to run a “Organizational Assessment” or what we, at Numly, refer to as a mechanism to understand and bridge the gap between your current state and goals, and how to approach it.

Taking an assessment is a critical step to long-term success, as it provides a data-driven understanding of your current state around diversity and inclusion to guide strategic decisions around resourcing and action planning.

How Numly Helps You

Numly offers the opportunity to provide a Talent Insight Report for your organization, It enables you to understand and measure your employees’ skills gaps and get a personalized diversity solution for your organization.

The report provides an insight not only on diversity skill gaps within the organization, but also a detailed analysis and a plan of action to start with.

What You Need To Do

  1. The first step is to identify your goals towards a diverse workplace and clearly define what diversity, inclusion, and equity would mean to your organization.
  2. Take the simple Organizational Assessment to understand diversity skills gaps, followed by a strategic plan and analysis catered specifically to your enterprise. 
  3. Undertake a DE&I Peer Coaching program designed to help grow leaders who can implement collaboration and empowerment within diverse teams and nurture a working environment that treats people fairly and equitably. 

Want to reinvent your D&I initiatives? Contact us for a Product Overview or Book a quick demo with us.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Human beings, by our very nature, are cooperative individuals. We also constantly strive to become the best versions of ourselves. When you combine these two traits, it’s easy to see why a concept like peer coaching is beneficial for so many people. It gives co-workers a chance to work together towards self-development. This makes it a good foundation for many productive business processes. 

Let’s explore the top reasons why now is the right time for organizations to adopt peer coaching:

 

Peer coaching combats a lack of trust in peers outside the function and/or an over-reliance on familiar faces

We, humans, are susceptible to a phenomenon called tribalism. Simply put, this is what creates that strong feeling of loyalty towards one’s tribe or social group. While this is useful for building bonds within one’s function, this is also what creates distrust or feelings of unease towards those we feel are not a part of our tribe or group. Since peer coaching brings individuals from different functions together, it helps eliminate this tribalism within the company. It helps foster trust and bonhomie amongst different processes. 

Peer coaching co-creates shared goals and priorities and reinforces them with metrics and accountability

Making a time-bound schedule with goals for oneself is easy, but when you have a partner co-creating one with you – more reliability gets added to the mix. While it’s true that there are many people out there who can be accountable to themselves, most others would prefer a partner to keep them in check. Peer coaching is exactly that – it’s a way to have someone you trust to help you reach your goals, without compromising on your normal daily work. 

Peer coaching helps create forums that build competence and interpersonal trust that establish the value of group goals

Do you know what a trust fall is? It’s a game that many children play as well, albeit the trust-building benefits may not be their motivation. A trust fall is when a person deliberately falls, believing someone from their group will catch them. Similarly, one’s peer coaching partner is expected to catch them when they fall off their schedule or goals. Now, can your partner catch you if they don’t know the rules of the exercise? The trust fall has the same end, no matter who plays it. That’s why one would prefer a partner who has experienced a structured peer coaching session before to help guide them. Peer coaching creates a platform where all the different partners or groups can create peer-coaching goals, both personal and organizational, along with rules and guidelines.

Peer coaching helps break down employee clusters of like-minded teammates

Another tendency of ours is to build an echo chamber around us. This is when everyone just agrees with each other when a conflicting or difficult matter is being discussed. In an echo chamber, everyone has the same opinions. While it is comforting and helps avoid conflict, it’s toxic behavior that hampers growth. This leads to group-think and even groupism, which can lead to creative rot. If no one is challenging each other, then why would anyone push for innovation? Peer coaching helps diversify such groups.

Peer coaching combats distrust or competition amongst team members

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that competition is useful up to a certain point, but cooperation is what we must strive for today. What he meant was that competition, while an agent of action in many, has destructive tendencies. Especially when it’s between members of the same team. But peer coaching fosters understanding and builds mutual goals. This creates a cooperative and collaborative environment, which creates trust and promotes healthy and creative work.

Peer coaching helps teams focus on outcomes from a customer and stakeholder perspective

As peer coaching involves more than one person, it’s easier for those involved to start thinking from outside their perspective. This helps in considering situations from the POV of a customer or even an internal stakeholder. This is because the team goals that are created are ultimately beneficial for the company’s most important relationships. Every action becomes more meaningful and has the interests of the customer in mind.

Peer coaching helps everyone to get transparent about workloads and competing priorities collectively

Sometimes, it’s tough to stay on routine but employees feel obligated to put their best face forward. This can lead to creating unrealistic goals for themselves or being dishonest about how much they’ve completed. As peer coaching creates a safe space, it’s much easier for employees to be honest about their workload. They can then create a new schedule to reach their goals. This is much better than waiting for everything to snowball at the last minute and doing substandard work.

Peer coaching helps reconfigure, re-optimize your pitfalls, strengths, and spikes in the workforce behavior and skill landscape

The best part of this process is the feedback loop. This is what encourages honest feedback and constructive comments from one employee to another. It helps refine plans and ideas, as well as skill sets and choice of tools. Peer coaching keeps each process fresh and constantly updating itself, thus ensuring no team is left with outdated skills or plans that simply don’t grow along with changing situations. This also helps create a safe space to evaluate and grow from failures.

Peer coaching helps craft tangible “measures of success” and quantified impact across your Learning and Development budgets

This process requires interactions and actions whose success and effectiveness are measured by benchmarks. The success or failure of these can be viewed by those responsible for creating learning and development programs. This is much better than paying exorbitant amounts on sessions and coaches who may not have any impact whatsoever. It’s more reliable as it’s been tried and tested. It’s also easier to break down the processes and assign a cost of training to each section.

Peer coaching helps combat the lack of norms/policies to guide WFH/remote work

Although WFH/remote working isn’t a new practice, many companies are unprepared for a framework to help navigate through this structure. But peer coaching creates an environment where norms and policies can be created collaboratively. This is because those on the same team will be in constant touch with each other. They will share the challenges they’re facing and brainstorm a possible solution together. Collaboration such as this will help create the foundation for a formal framework.

These are the reasons why it’s time to embrace peer coaching in your working place. Get in touch with us and take this step to make your office a more collaborative place.

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Workforce development programs are crucial drivers of employee engagement strategies across organizations. 

According to research, 93% of employees are more willing to stay with an organization if it invests in their career development. 

The millennials and Gen Z demographic is fast becoming the dominant workforce demographic. One of the key things this generation values is the acquisition of new skills with 87% of millennials citing investments in professional or career growth and development opportunities as key when selecting a job. 91% of the millennials think of their career progression as a top priority.

Clearly, investing in L&D initiatives is non-negotiable, especially as organizations try to get out of the economic slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasing their employee skill sets to close the skills gap and increase the digital capabilities of the workforce have become imperative for business success. At the same time, organizations also have to increase their repertoire of critical skills to meet the needs of the Future of Work. Leadership skill development, as you can see, now needs a complete overhaul to help then transition from being a remote boss to a virtual leader. Organizations have to help managers lead teams more efficiently. Building organizational resilience by building employee resilience has become crucial. 

These and many such other changes must be introduced in the L&D initiatives to make them relevant for this hybrid workplace of the future. Consequently, organizations also have to approach their L&D budget allocations differently so that the organization can adapt to unexpected changes proactively.

Crafting a tangible “measure of success”

Training budgets increased from $17.7 million in 2019 to $22 million in 2020 for large companies. The total amount spent on training in the U.S in 2020 stood at $82.5 billion. With these numbers at play, making sure of the ROI from training investments becomes imperative for almost all organizations. 

To achieve this, it is essential to craft tangible “measures of success”, the parameters that determine the success or failure of learning and development initiatives. Some of the key elements to measure here are:

  • Behavioral changes: Measuring whether the training program has brought about the behavioral change in the workplace and evaluate if both individuals and teams are aligned with the organizational values and purpose. Monitoring the relationship between skill development and behavioral change is also essential to increase training efficiency, and improve business metrics 
  • Organizational impact: Measuring the increase in operational efficiency or organizational outcomes as a result of training. A sales training, for example, should result in sales revenue growth. 
  • Skill attainment: Measuring the knowledge levels of the employee both pre and post-training. The learners’ knowledge and skill levels must show improvement at the end of training.
  • Workplace application: Measuring the extent to which the learner is applying the newfound knowledge and skill in her role to improve outcomes and performance. Skill acquisition without skill application is purposeless in the enterprise narrative

However, to achieve good outcomes from L&D initiatives, it is necessary to closely tie these initiatives to the organizational goals and role-based performance goals and inextricably make L&D a part of the performance management process. 

Peer Coaching Drives L&D

Complementing training and skill development initiatives with peer coaching can make L&D initiatives more successful. Peer coaching is a powerful tool to drive team spirit and employee engagement. This becomes more relevant and essential now due to the rise of a hybrid workplace- one that accommodates both remote teams and on-premise teams in tandem. 

The rise of the hybrid workplace brings about new challenges – most of which need the workforce to hone, fine-tune and increase the repertoire of their critical skills such as communication, empathy, collaboration, strategic and critical thinking, and the like. 

Peer coaching delivers a quantified impact across learning and development initiatives because it:

  • Provides a 360-degree view of employee performance: Peer coaching helps employees gain a more holistic view of their performance. Instead of relying only on managers for feedback, peer coaching provides a well-rounded overview of areas of strengths and opportunities for improvement. Peer coaches can give quick and accurate feedback and offer timely advice to accelerate learning and drive accountability. 
  • Empowers and encourages people to learn new skills: Peer coaching does not adopt an instructional approach like training. It is a deeper relationship, one that is ‘freer’ in nature. This perspective becomes the most defining factor of peer coaching. It is because of the nature of this form of coaching that makes people more attuned and welcome towards learning and skill acquisition. Since peer coaches are people who perform similar job functions as the learner, the conversation becomes more relevant to identify blind spots that training programs can miss. Peer coaching also empowers employees as a peer coach acts as that go-to person with whom they can talk directly and candidly when needed and learn by watching them work. 
  • Drives behavioral change: Repetition is essential to drive behavioral change. This is where day-long training programs fail on the measurement matrix. Peer coaching is a continuous process and is greatly needed to build critical skills like empathy, active listening, effective feedback, communication, leadership, etc.  Since peer coaching highlights reciprocal engagement, it facilitates the joint consideration of the process rather than merely listening to spoken words. This type of coaching helps in building an understanding of the “why” in question and, hence, can bring about a shift in behaviors through constant engagement.
  • Increases employee engagement: Peer coaching is also a great tool to build team spirit and camaraderie between employees. It is of valuable assistance when we want to build trust bridges across the organization to bring employees together. This becomes essential especially because hybrid teams, remote teams, and work from home burnout are an everyday reality across organizations.

Peer coaching helps employees build connections across the organization. It can be valuable to drive diversity and inclusion initiatives. It can help new employees migrate from being the ‘outsiders’ to the ‘insiders’ in the organization while helping all build trusted networks that drive career progress. All of these factors contribute heavily towards employee engagement and help build ‘shared purpose’ across the organization.

To make peer coaching outcomes successful, organizations need to design quantitative and qualitative points of measurement. 

Quantitative measurement 

For this, it is essential to leverage a technology-powered advanced coaching platform that helps organizations:

  • Identify the exact skill requirements of the workforce and deliver contextual peer coaching programs 
  • Assess skill needs, employee strengths, and weaknesses using skill assessment programs. The reliance has to be on data – not guesswork or gut feel
  • Use data to make the best coach-learner pairing 
  • Get evaluation insights from managers as well as colleagues to provide holistic feedback on soft and hard skills
  • Get detailed insights from self-scoring, peer rating, coach, and leader feedback both continuously during the coaching and post-completion 
  • Get post-coaching insights like engagement index of both the team and organization and enterprise insights from rich analytics 

Qualitative measurement 

Qualitative measurement must complement quantitative measurement. For quantitative measurement, organizations have to look at the non-numerical data and identify the measures of success. 

So, how employees respond to peer coaches and coaching, how well they can apply their newly learned skills, how aligned they are to the organization, is there a behavioral change, and whether they are engaged and believe in the organizational purpose, for example, become important points to measure. 

It is only when we measure both the qualitative and quantitative parameters that learning and development initiatives can drive a tangible impact on organizational outcomes. 

Connect with us to design comprehensive and effective peer coaching strategies and drive them using the power of AI to drive transformational learning and development results.   

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Achieving harmony in work-life balance sounds utopian as a concept, especially with the stark impact
that COVID-19 has had on workforce dynamics. Reports are now indicating that a majority of the
women are being forced to drop out of the workforce at an escalating rate. However, in the face of
unprecedented challenges and the way the pandemic has transformed our society, leaders like
Shalini Ramakrishnan – Director, Product Marketing at Numly, is endeavoring to bring about a change
with guidelines and solutions that boost resilience and productivity.

1. In your present role, what are the unique qualities or characteristics that you have brought to
your career and workplace?
My innate ability to work across divisions and verticals is the most unique quality that I bring
to my role. I have had the opportunity of using this ability to experiment across divisions –
Sales, Operations, Product Training, and Customer demos without having to be streamlined
into a single role.

2. Every woman has different commitments and schedules in and out of the office. How do you
strike a balance between work and home?
We all know that achieving harmony at work and home is always a challenge, what with the
system redefining the ‘new normal’. The way I have learned to juggle both responsibilities is
by defining strict timelines and dividing up tasks to make work-life integration successful,
especially with my presence required across three time zones. This has helped me shift my
mindset in a way that I can prioritize my well-being and define boundaries for a more
productive and improved ecosystem – at both work and home.

3. How do you see COVID-19’s impact, both immediate and long term, on changing the nature
of how we work?
COVID-19 was almost a bolt out of the blue for organizations across the globe, and the
disproportional impact that it has had in the way organizations and individuals work cannot be
discounted. The immediate impact was transitioning to a remote working model that isolated
employees and left behind a silo mindset with minimal engagement and communication.
Overall, I see a fall in employee morale with organizations struggling to restore trust and
positivity. With the hybrid working model here to stay, they are now scrambling to re-invent
the work culture in the face of these existential challenges. Sustainable solutions are,
therefore, critical in the long-term – with increased engagement between peers and
managers, corporate flexibility to ensure the same levels of productivity, and the need for
reskilling and upskilling for innovation and strategic leverage.

4. What are the biggest challenges that you see with women in the workplace? Notwithstanding,
are there any benefits or opportunities of how the pandemic is transforming how we work and
live?
The challenges that women have had to face have been vastly disproportional and more
impactful on women. Women are striving to strike harmony with multiple responsibilities of
work, family, and home. Also, the biggest predicament for women is to be able to keep a
sense of normalcy in the current circumstances and how they can be best managed.
Organizations have started to recognize the struggle that women have been facing due to the
shift in work dynamic and incorporating initiatives that enable women employees and leaders
to drive a successful career for themselves. Work-life balance in the post-pandemic world is
an art that women in specific have to grow to master, with the transition from remote working
to the hybrid working model. The only benefit that I foresee is a sense of flexibility and a
smarter and more productive way of working.

5. In these trying times, how has Numly been a pillar in your work-life? How do you stay
motivated?
With the undue burden of mental load that has taken a toll on the well-being of women at
large, I would consider my team at Numly as one of the most dynamic and adaptive teams
that I have worked with thus far. Numly has been a pillar and extremely supportive of my
career choices, regardless of my gender. The freedom to define my timelines or decisions to
drive initiatives across numerous verticals was a shift that was graciously accepted by the
management and is motivation in itself.

6. What are some of the stereotypes and biases that you have experienced as a female leader?
How did you champion gender equality?
There have been some stereotypical situations that I have faced as a female leader, which is
questioning my ability to work effectively and deliver productive results. In the initial stages of
my career, these typical gender-biased remarks were prevalent and I chose to push them
under the carpet. However, the nagging question remained in my mind and I started to
introspect about how these preconceived notions could be dealt with. And I worked around
championing gender equality through empathy and behavioral changes.

7. Tell us about the Women Leadership Development and D,E&I programs in Numly. Has it
been implemented, and if yes, how has it worked?
Numly has successfully implemented comprehensive programs with a collective vision – the
Women Leadership Development and D,E&I programs. Amongst the gamut of programs that
are being implemented across organizations, these programs are designed on the core
foundation that developmental changes are essentially driven by behavioral and cultural
changes within an organization. The D,E&I program identifies skill gaps, addresses changes
in behavioral and critical skills, and recognizes and empowers women leaders to work and
evolve without bias. As opposed to the conventional external coaching formats employed
across organizations, Numly believes that peer-peer coaching not only elevates the
engagement within your organization, but is an experience that is bound to resonate with
employees in terms of connecting, engaging, and networking through an exchange of skills –
and most importantly, by breaking hierarchical barriers. We also have a host of ‘Getting
started’ programs where organizations can get started and onboard their employees with
ample learning material that is bound to transform their learning journey into a peer coaching
experience.

8. What advice would you give to women who want to be a mentor/coach?
The best advice that I would give to anybody who wants to be a coach is to understand that
every individual has struggles, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. And the ability to take
cognizance of the fact that you have to first be a coach before you can become a leader is
imperative. I believe that the coach-learner dynamic is a mutually beneficial learning journey –
where both reap benefits that contribute to their growth. If there is a skill that is unique to you,
the onus of imparting that knowledge to another individual as a mentor or coach lies with you.
Embrace any opportunity to be a coach as it not only minimizes the distance between you
and the mentee but also helps foster mutual trust.

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Everyone needs an ally. Be it in your personal life or the professional space, having allies always makes the job easier. But who is an ally? An ally is a person who takes on another’s struggle as their own. They stand up for you even when you don’t. An ally is a person committed to progress, one who proactively shares growth opportunities, identifies and mitigates micro-inequalities, and transfers the benefit of privilege to those who don’t have it. 

Having a workforce that functions as allies of each other automatically helps in building and strengthening a culture of trust and mutual respect within the organization.

Why allyship matters

We need to talk about allyship as diversity and inclusion and organizational resilience have become important topics of conversation. 

The concept of allyship figures quite strongly to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. Allyship can fuel diversity and inclusion initiatives as allies bring attention to those unheard voices that struggle to be heard. The concept of allyship is about using individual power and privilege to elevate co-workers, team members, and colleagues and move towards a more inclusive and diverse workplace that is well aware of all bias – both conscious and unconscious.

While all this is true, research shows that while more than 80% of white women and men see themselves as allies to colleagues of other races and ethnicities, less than 50% of Blacks and Latinas feel that they have strong allies at work. If diversity and inclusion initiatives are at work then we need to be concerned about this startling gap.

Building allyship should matter to organizations today because 

  • Elements like diversity and inclusion have a crucial influence on the narrative of the workforce. With millennials and Gen Z making up a majority of the workforce, organizations need to wake up to the fact that this generation wants more than lip service to diversity and inclusion initiatives. 
  • It is vital for the inclusion of other groups as well such as those with disabilities, or mental health challenges. This aspect becomes all the more crucial as people across the world battle mental health issues with rising concerns over work from home burnout.
  • TAs we battle challenging times, organizations also realize that they need to build resilience into their DNA. Allyship can be a great driver of resilience as it helps in building trusted relationships between peers and helps them connect and care for each other. 
  • Employees and customers are both looking at organizations to become the beacons of equality and inclusion. They will not hesitate to vote with their feet if they feel that organizational values do not match their own. 

Allyship needs coaching

To build allyship, words of intent have to turn into powerful actions. 

However, words translate into action only when we truly understand the intent behind investing time in supporting and lifting others. It is consistent personal actions that work towards building an inclusive environment. If we look closely, developing allyship is about building an understanding of how systemic bias and social conditioning have influenced our belief systems and behaviors. 

Coaching can be a powerful tool to navigate the challenges that impede building allyship within the organization and help the workforce embrace the new concept and drive the necessary mind shifts to build a shared purpose towards diversity and inclusion.

Coaching works to build allyship primarily because it is:

  • Contextual and personalized  

Change only happens when people truly want to change. And people only want to change when they understand why they need to change.

For example, coaching helps people understand the underlying gaps in conditioning and how this conditioning impacts bias. Most people are unaware of their bias and need to understand how this bias affects others at work and the organizational culture. Building the understanding and context about how those different from us are not lesser than us demands a change in thoughts and learned behaviors. 

Through positive and continuous interactions, coaching establishes the context that people need to bring a shift in their behaviors. It thereby contributes towards building allyship across the enterprise.

Unlike day-long training programs aimed at improving diversity and inclusion, coaching can be highly personalized. It is targeted and specific to the challenges of an individual and helps in building the critical skills needed to build allyship.

  • Continuous 

You get a bunch of people in a room and talk to them about the importance of allyship and the benefits removing bias brings to them as individuals and to an organization. This group is greatly enthused with the talk. However, once this day-long session is over and the initial enthusiasm wears off, people go back to their old patterns.

People are creatures of habit. And changing any habit takes time and effort. The thing is, when it comes to behavioral change, this effort has to be continuous. One has to be mindful at all times to truly internalize the impact of their actions and gain the confidence to challenge behaviors that impede allyship.

Coaching is a continuous exercise. Unlike training programs, the relationship between the coach and the learner is grounded in trust and feedback. It is a non-directive method that involves inquiry and care and works with compassion and helps people understand that all beliefs are ultimately malleable. 

  • Aids growth 

Elements that impact diversity and inclusion such as unconscious bias demand that we continuously challenge ourselves and our peers to aid growth and learning. This is a process that has to be on the path of continuous evolution as well. 

The objective for developing allyship across the organization is to build the workforce such that every individual can develop the critical skills needed to become agents of change. Research shows that when we are made more aware of our behaviors, we are more likely to support issues like diversity.  

Coaching helps in building this awareness amongst people that aid intellectual growth. It keeps the right conversations going to support advocacy for issues like diversity and inclusion and traits that build resilience.

  • Builds Trust 

All employees want to feel like valued members of the organization. That is why most employee engagement initiatives focus on creating a sense of belonging, community, and connection at work. It is especially important for leaders and managers to actively demonstrate helpful and positive behaviors that build trust. 

Not giving employees a voice or being selective about it, lacking listening skills, command and control leadership, etc. are all signs of non-inclusive and untrusting behaviors. Coaching helps people identify the right behaviors that build trust and brings awareness towards behaviors and microaggressions that impede allyship. 

We have moved towards a hybrid work environment. With a certain section working remotely, it becomes all the more important to lead responsibly and help employees feel valued and trusted. Since coaching is a highly accountable process, it helps in bringing about the required change in actions and thoughts that contribute to increasing the trust quotient across the organization. 

In Conclusion 

Plato said, “Reality is created by the mind. We can change our reality by changing our minds”. For a long time, organizations have leveraged the ‘command-control’ strategy to drive productivity and profitability. But with the evolution of time and intellect, people no longer respond to these strategies. As the business landscape becomes more complex and challenging, and as workforce demographics change, organizations have to shift their workforce management strategies. Allyship is that tool that can help the workforce connect in meaningful ways and bring about real change in mindsets and behaviors. 

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered coaching platform can help you develop allyship in your workplace. 

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Businesses started caring a great deal more about racial bias and began taking diversity seriously after a series of high-profile lawsuits that rocked the corporate world back in the 1990s. As a result of these, today, organizations are focusing heavily on diversity training, and we would like to believe that we are moving towards a more racially just workplace. However, while there has been considerable advancement of equality in the workplace, some still remain more equal than others, thereby bringing the focus on racial equity.

Racial equity is an outcome of mutually reinforcing actions that dismantle systemic racism and inequity. It is essential to place our focus on driving racial equity now because recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis have exposed the disproportionate depth of racial inequality. At the same time, it has ushered in the era of heightened awareness and understanding which demands that organizations lead the change towards racial equity.

The challenge for organizations is to follow good intentions with sustained commitment and action to challenge beliefs, change behaviors and lead towards a more racially equitable future.

Workplace Racial Bias is Real 

The first step towards solving a problem is admitting you have a problem. 

  • Research shows that 42% of U.S employees have experienced racism in the workplace. And yet, 93% of white workers believe that racial or ethnic discrimination even exists in the workplace.
  • 35% of Black workers believe racial or ethnic discrimination exists in their workplace, but only 7% of white workers believe the same. 
  • “Whitened” resumes are more likely to get callbacks as compared to resumes that are ethnic-sounding. 
  • Black professionals (31%) have less access to senior leaders at work than white professionals do (44%) 

A simple google search will throw up many more such compelling statistics to lull us out of the dream of an equal and equitable workplace. 

Understanding racial bias?

Racially charged jokes, slurs and the like are blatant acts of bigotry that are easy to spot and call out. But racial bias emerges in more than these apparent ways. While organizations have many policies in place to arrest such blatant bias, it is the unconscious bias or the implicit bias that we have to work towards controlling. 

Unconscious biases are “the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions unconsciously.” Everyone brings in some form of unconscious bias into the workplace and because these biases are reflexively triggered without our knowledge, they are virtually unconcealable. Assuming that an older person is technically challenged while a younger person is not is an example of unconscious bias. 

Unconscious bias contains many microaggressions and microinvalidations that send out denigrating messages to individuals because they belong to a certain group.

It is these biases that impact diversity and inclusion initiatives, undermine recruitment efforts and employee development, impact retention rates, and promote a disconnected culture. 

McKinsey’s Delivering Through Diversity report points out, “Gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity, particularly within executive teams, continue to be correlated to financial performance across multiple countries worldwide.” 

While hiring employees from different backgrounds is a stepping stone for a united culture, organizations have to work towards creating a workplace that facilitates inclusiveness where everyone is valued and differences are embraced. 

Is Coaching the Antidote to Racial Bias?

Organizations have relied on diversity training to reduce racial bias in the workplace but while it has been successful in somewhat reducing bias, it has not been successful in stamping it out. 

Tools to police thoughts and actions such as grievance systems are important but social scientists reveal that people often rebel against such rules to establish authority. Research also shows that organizations get better results when they ease up on the control tactics and, instead, take that path that allows people to increase their social accountability with the desire to be fair-minded. Being around people who are different than us, engaging with people who have a fair mind and believe strongly in racial equality and equity is bound to bring better results. This is where peer coaching comes into play as an antidote to racial bias. 

Why Peer Coaching Works to Battle Racial Bias

Peer coaching is the process where managers, executives, and professionals, who may or may not work together, form a trusting environment to help and support each other and facilitate learning by reflecting on current practices and sharing ideas. 

  • Non-directive: A peer coaching network within the organization is non-directive, as opposed to directive or evaluative feedback. It works through compassionate and caring inquiry and helps people improve their abilities via practice and reflection on what works and what doesn’t. 
  • Holistic: The nature of peer coaching makes it a sustainable practice that can be executed continuously to drive behavioral change. It takes a holistic approach towards a topic as sensitive as racial bias and effectively helps people understand the impact of their attitudes and stereotypes that influence their actions. 
  • Creates understanding: Peer coaching gives people the opportunity to understand themselves better, and how their judgment impacts their colleagues and the workplace. But most of all, peer coaching helps people understand that their own declared beliefs are not absolute and can be malleable, that they might not be as fair as they think they are, and might be completely unaware of their bias. 
  • Promotes behavioral shift: Most importantly, peer coaching works to tackle racial bias because it helps in building that mind shift that is needed for people to see things differently as the circle of influence lies within the organization. We have to remember that while beliefs drive behavior, it is behavior that can change beliefs.

However, peer coaching cannot be approached in a random, haphazard manner. For peer coaching to tackle workplace bias organizations have to:

  • Leverage technology and not guesswork to connect the right coach to the right learner and drive better coaching conversations
  • Make coaching feedback-driven, personalized and contextual 
  • Leverage data to guide people by identifying areas of improvement to reach their full potential 
  • Adopt data-backed methods to identify potential candidates for coaching and also to identify potential coaches from the workforce
  • Cultivate leaders who champion diversity and inclusion, infuse collaboration and empowerment into diverse teams and foster a fair and equitable work environment 
  • Assimilate the corporate culture and build trusted relationships by developing the right mindsets and habits that allow people to connect, care and coach each other

In Conclusion 

Businesses have the responsibility and also the opportunity to improve racial equity in the workplace. A report by Deloitte shows how racial equity creates greater business value. It is all the more essential to move along this path as 94% of millennials and Gen Z expect organizations to take a stand on important social issues such as racial bias, 67% of job seekers report that a diverse workforce is an important point when considering a job offer. Today, public and private investors are also increasingly demanding racial equity and want companies to disclose annual data on the composition of their workforce by race and ethnicity. 

The Deloitte report shows that not addressing key racial gaps cost the U.S economy around $16 trillion over the last two decades. Closing these gaps now can add an estimated $5 trillion to the GDP over the next five years alone. 

Clearly, racial equity is great for everyone. But reaching equitable outcomes need concentrated, sustained, and coordinated effort across the organization. 

Connect with us to see how our AI-based coaching platform can power your peer coaching initiatives and help you battle racial bias in the workplace.