In today's diverse workplaces, biases unfortunately still persist. These biases in the workplace, often unconscious, can significantly affect our relationships with our colleagues.

They can lead to unfair treatment, biased decision-making, hinder diversity and inclusion efforts, negatively impacting employee morale and productivity. Employees at all levels should recognise different types of workplace unconscious biases and use resources to prevent workplace discrimination.

employers must confront biases to create an inclusive work culture
employers must confront biases to create an inclusive work culture

Unconscious biases, also known as implicit biases or hidden biases, in the workplace can take various forms, such as ageism, conformity bias, stereotyping, weight bias, affinity bias, confirmation bias, gender bias, sexual orientation bias and more.

These biases can manifest in subtle ways that can be difficult to identify, making them even more challenging to address. Addressing unconscious bias is critical in today's culturally diverse job market.

Recognising the importance of inclusion, companies should adopt a comprehensive approach to combat non-inclusive behaviour, promoting racial equity, ethnic diversity and gender equality.

Implementing comprehensive inclusion strategies is essential to mitigating these biases and creating a more equitable workplace where everyone feels acknowledged and respected.

are biases here to stay? 

Asia, home to over 4 billion people, nearly 50 countries, and a multitude of languages, provides an interesting landscape for examining diversity. Many companies in the region proudly highlight their diverse workforce. However, diversity does not guarantee inclusivity. 

Pay gaps based on gender and ethnicity continue to persist despite ongoing efforts to address them. Women, in particular, face challenges like the motherhood penalty, singleism, and limited career progression opportunities. 

LinkedIn data reveals that women are underrepresented in leadership positions across all industries. The sectors with the lowest representation of women in leadership positions are manufacturing, agriculture, Supply Chain and Transportation, Oil, Gas and Mining, and Infrastructure. The disparity becomes more pronounced in higher-ranking positions, where men account for 71.1% of vice president roles and 74.6% of C-suite positions on average.

One of our studies found that nearly a third of young respondents in Singapore admitted to avoiding interaction with older workers. Conversely, 28% of respondents aged 18 to 35 felt denied promotions due to their youth.

According to Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission, a survey of nearly 700 young PWDs found that a third of the young people with disabilities (PWDs) also said they felt their employers had ignored their disability. And while a significant number of employers are willing to hire PWDs, they were concerned about the associated costs.

Inclusivity requires creating an environment where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and a sense of belonging. Despite various efforts, issues such as pay gaps and discrimination persist. Companies that fail to act appropriately risk creating a sense of insincerity among employees, which can be detrimental to the goal of fostering a meaningfully engaged workforce. 

Yet, strong workplace relationships could be the answer to your equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) gaps. 

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fostering strong workplace relationships

The Randstad Employer Brand Research in 2023 found that a large majority of employees in Malaysia (96%), Singapore (94%), and Hong Kong SAR (87%) believe having good relationships with their managers and colleagues is an important non-monetary consideration when looking for an employer.

More than ever, employees desire to feel like they are part of a team or organisation, with 54% of respondents in the 2023 Workmonitor report saying they would quit if they did not feel a sense of belonging at their company.

So how does good workplace relationships help drive success to your ED&I agenda?

Relationships are built on trust - the more we trust one another, the more likely we will feel comfortable to confide information to one another. This helps create opportunities for honest and open communications to happen, which is how we get to understand our colleagues more personally and avoid making biased statements.

trust-based workplace relationships are the key to inclusivity
trust-based workplace relationships are the key to inclusivity
how to nurture an inclusive workforce
how to nurture an inclusive workforce

1. inclusive environment

Cultivate an inclusive workplace that values diversity and equity, and ensure your diversity statement reflects this commitment. This will encourage open dialogue and provide opportunities for employees to speak out about their experiences and nurture positive workplace relationships.

2. effective communication

Promote transparent and open communication throughout the organisation where people can feel psychologically safe to share their experiences. Encourage them to regularly share company updates, successes and challenges with one another.

3. equal opportunities for career development

With a focus on potential and skills development, employers should offer opportunities for upskilling and career advancement for all employees, regardless of their background or identity. 

This includes providing employees with access to training and development programmes, mentorship and sponsorship opportunities and other resources to help them achieve their career goals.

By investing in equal opportunities for career development and employee growth and development, organisations can create a more equitable and inclusive workplace where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

4. create employee resource groups

Establish employee resource groups (ERGs) that cater to various minority communities to promote inclusive initiatives within the workplace. These groups can contribute diverse perspectives to the decision-making process while working towards shared goals.

ERGs provide a safe platform for employees to connect based on shared interests, and give them the opportunity to raise awareness and educate their peers about their experiences to achieve an outcome that is better than today. 

5. leadership role modelling

Leaders define the team culture when they lead by example and communicate its future direction clearly. Ensure that leaders actively promote and embody a safe and supportive workplace culture that champions ethnic and gender diversity for everyone to thrive. When leaders exhibit behaviours that support inclusivity, respect and collaboration, employees are more likely to emulate these values.

6. reward and recognition

Openly acknowledge and appreciate employees who consistently deliver outcomes and demonstrate trustworthiness. Make an effort to promote them, assign them to special projects or client-facing responsibilities to show that the organisation trusts their judgement and capabilities.

diversity and inclusion lead to financial outcomes

In conclusion, as business leaders and HR professionals, it's crucial to understand that well-executed ED&I initiatives can offer tangible commercial benefits. Studies have shown that diverse workplaces foster innovation, enhance employee engagement, and improve overall company reputation, ultimately leading to increased workplace happiness. The long-term benefits can significantly contribute to a company's bottom line.

We must approach ED&I strategically, with clearly defined goals, measurable outcomes, and regular assessments for course correction. As stewards of our organisations, it's incumbent upon us to champion ED&I, not just because it is morally right, but because it is good for business.

Together, we can build more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces that drive better business outcomes and create an environment where every employee feels valued and empowered, breaking down the barriers imposed by implicit biases.

work with randstad

At Randstad, we advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We believe that our diverse teams drive creativity, innovation, and change and our people are our greatest asset. And our culture of inclusion is rooted in our respect for individuality, uniqueness and diverse backgrounds. 

Reach out to our specialised consultants for the latest talent trends or want to know more about the latest market insights. Through market mapping and conversations with our clients and candidates, we can inform you of the latest workforce and HR trends that you can turn into actionable strategies to attract and retain talent.

Alternatively, if you are a job seeker seeking a better work-life balance, explore your career options and apply for a job that aligns with your skills and expectations.

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