By s1jobs

Making your organisation the best place to work for the widest range of people is easier said than done. As human beings, we are hard-wired to identify the similarities that draw us to others, with the flipside being that we also intuitively pick up on the differences that set us apart.

That is why, despite being more than two decades into the 21st century, we still see shocking instances of racism such as that of UK barrister Alexandra Wilson, a black woman who was mistaken for a defendant three times in a single day while in court. Justice is not blind, which is why Ms Wilson has called for compulsory anti-racism training at every level of the UK legal system.

That came just a few days after it was reported that 40 MPs had refused to take part in the unconscious bias training provided by the House of Commons, with one MP said to have described it as “totally nonsensical”.

READ MORE: Time to ‘get the conversation going’ on racial bias at work

The failure to utter racist, homophobic or sexist slurs – often passing in the guise of “banter” – does not mean we have evolved past discrimination. A recent survey by accountancy group Deloitte found that 41 per cent of BAME employees don’t feel their workplaces offer an inclusive culture, even in the absence of overt racism.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have unconscious biases, and these affect the hiring process as we are by default just that little bit more comfortable with bringing on board someone similar to ourselves.

Unconscious bias training for those with power over hiring decisions and HR policy is a start, but it doesn’t work in isolation. No matter how good the training, a few sessions is not enough to change ingrained attitudes.

READ MORE: Diageo executive says diversity and inclusion must be a ‘business imperative’ if they are to make a difference

To create meaningful change, organisations need to have a long-term strategy on how to tackle bias. It won’t happen overnight and will involve structural changes such as implementing diverse, representative interview panels. Employers also need to consult with staff from all backgrounds on how they could be better represented in HR policies, and commit to a zero-tolerance approach when discrimination is found to have occurred.

At s1jobs, we have continued our commitment to diversity and inclusion via support for this year’s Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Conference that took place online last week. As Emma Francis of Zurich UK pointed out, the road to eradicating bias is “definitely a marathon, not a sprint”.