I enjoyed the article ‘Age-old question of bias’ by Stephen Overell (Personnel Today, 15 February).
It was refreshing to read an article on diversity that acknowledged the ‘two mindsets’ emerging as the result of normal people reflecting on their beliefs and unintentional bias.
At [insurance company] Unum-Provident, we believe that everyone should be treated fairly and given every opportunity to be the best that they can be.
Our company values encompass diversity in the broadest sense. There are many benefits in having a diverse workforce – not least in helping businesses to understand their customers’ needs, and enabling them to retain a competitive edge.
The forthcoming age discrimination laws will keep diversity in focus and challenge the HR profession, and, more importantly, senior managers, to reflect on the bias they may have built into their business. It is not always the business case or compliance that should win through, but also testing our fundamental beliefs.
Through our values we have a constant focus on making a positive difference. We have management champions who look inside and outside the company to define good practice, and through regular reviews and analysis they identify barriers to success and, through education, confront bias driven by personal beliefs.
Yes, the legislation will undoubtedly lead to difficult questions and potentially higher costs. But in the long run, if you focus on getting the best from everyone who comes into contact with your organisation, the commitment that follows can only be good for business.
I would encourage all HR professionals to bring ‘age’ into focus, if necessary, but don’t ignore the main aim of creating a culture where everyone is able and motivated to give their best.