January 5, 2022

Goodbye, professional bias: finding your flow in workplace inclusion with Vivian Acquah

Goodbye, professional bias: finding your flow in workplace inclusion with Vivian Acquah

Vivian Acquah, inclusive workplace wellness advocate, has come to know both sides of the coin, and now works to encourage diversity in the workplace as well as reduce bias in the hiring process. As you may recall in our article published earlier this month, this is a topic that’s also crucial here at Minite, where we’re combatting unconscious hiring bias with initiatives like our bias-free profile avatars. In this month’s 5 Minite coffee, we’ve brought in Vivian to do a speed round of questions on her workplace wisdom. Let’s get brewing!

What are the main types of bias you see perpetrated in the modern workplace?

“There are many types of bias present, but I’ll pick the three most relevant. First, there is confirmation bias, where people make an assumption about you and let that assumption dictate your narrative. Second comes affinity bias, which is when someone associates themselves with someone who has a shared background and shared experiences. Third and finally there is similarity bias, which is when people prefer one individual over another because they share the same interests or are members of the same group.”

We want to protect everyone’s equal opportunity to score a freelancing job at Minite. So we replaced profile photos with avatars to make hiring a High-Flyer a fairer process. But beyond the hiring process, how can we capitalize on the positive differences that come from a diverse workplace?

Vivian gives an example of a symphony orchestra that set up a completely anonymous audition process where every candidate played their instrument but never revealed their face. “We can do the same in the business world, with anonymous resumes.” Very much like the musical auditions, it is our unique skills that will ultimately be instrumental in the symphony orchestra of success, and nothing else.

And as for what comes after interviews and onboarding, unbiased practices can and should continue, says Vivian. “Train your team to learn the ingredients of being an inclusive leader: active listening, becoming an ally for everyone and not just people like you. We own the results of our efforts, so we should assume leadership and responsibility in working towards workplace inclusion and bias reduction.”

“We are all leaders in inclusion. Start your journey, educate yourself, apply, learn, learn again, and do better.”

You told Micky earlier the story of your son, who is still very young, witness second-hand racism for the first time, and how this inspired you to do the work you're doing today. Can you tell that story again and share why it is so important to you?

“When George Floyd was killed, my son saw the horrific incident on TV one night when I was too slow in turning the TV off. He was asking me, “is that normal?” I told him, that man was killed for the color of his skin, and he asked me, will that happen to you one day? That question really paralyzed me, but it fueled me at the same time and ultimately led to me bungee jumping out of my comfort zone, to the career I am in today.”Vivian runs Amplify DEI, in which she has welcomed over 92 speakers and 900+ attendees this year.

Her challenge to all of us? “Do something within the next half year in which you are amplifying diversity and inclusion in your own workplace. Start your journey, educate yourself, apply, learn, learn again, and do better. Like Maya Angelou said, when you know better, you do better”.

Listen in, join the conversation on workplace inclusion, and help create momentum for the beauty of a diversified professional community today via Vivian’s various speaker projects and her website here.

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