Canadian Lawyer InHouse

December/January 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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36 www.canadianlawyermag.com/inhouse FEATURE Michelle Gibbings explains how to push past unconscious bias to create a diverse team that can truly tackle complex problems AS ORGANIZATIONS GRAPPLE with more complex decisions and an ever-increasing pace of change, building a workforce equipped with the skills and experience to thrive in such an environment is critical. Finding this depth and breadth of talent means building a workforce that covers the full spectrum of diversity, including age, ethnicity, gender, thinking styles, disabilities and sexual orientation. To accomplish this, leaders need to challenge their decision- making patterns. Seek out difference It's natural to want to work with people you like and find easy to work with, and when you're building a team or forming work groups, you often seek out such people. This is either done consciously or subconsciously. In the case of recruitment, for example, search criteria often specifically reference the desire to find a cultural fit. Cultural fit can mean different things to different people. Typically, if you ask people how they define whether someone is a cultural fit, they'll give criteria such as: lives the organization's values is able to work well with the team How to build a more diverse team will fit in with the rest of the group understands the organization's objectives and buys into its vision However, when you strip away the layers and get to the base-level drivers, what the person is looking for is someone with whom they feel comfortable — that is, someone they connect with because they can see aspects of themselves in that person. Avoid likeability bias It's often suggested that one of the key success criteria for a job interview is to come across as likeable — the premise being that the hiring manager has already positively assessed the candidate's résumé for the required technical skills. Now all the hiring manager is seeking to test is whether they want to work with the person or not. This likeability isn't just about being friendly and a nice person. It's about whether the hiring manager finds similarities with the person they're interviewing. Research shows that we like people who are similar to us in terms of interests, backgrounds and experi- ences, and this has consequential impacts on hiring decisions. Researchers from Kellogg University found that getting hired for a job isn't so much about the "soft or hard dimensions of the role" but rather how similar the person being interviewed is to the person conducting the interview. It's very easy for leaders to want to hire people who are like them. Similarity makes a person feel comfortable. However, when you hire people like you, you're simply filling your team or work group with people who have similar backgrounds, experiences and thought processes. The more alike people are, the more likely they are to think along the same lines; therefore, there is less room for debate, discernment and disagreement

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