According to the World Economic Forum, humans have 24 cognitive biases that warp our understanding of what we see and hear (Nov 2021). If this is true, is it practical to believe that anti-bias training can successfully change how we relate to each other in the workplace? What is the end goal of this training? Whatever your answer might be, please.... no more anti-bias training.
In my humble opinion, biases in the workplace require therapy, not training. The goal of employers should be recruiting and retaining talent. In other words, the focus should be on workforce development. What is workforce development?
Workforce development refers to the process of improving the skills, knowledge, abilities, and overall readiness of a workforce to meet the needs of employers and industries. The ultimate goal is to improve the capabilities of individuals to succeed in the job market and contribute to the growth of businesses.
Key components of workforce development include:
Education and Training: Providing individuals with access to relevant education and training programs.
Skill Enhancement: Offering opportunities for individuals to improve existing skills or acquire new ones.
Job Placement and Career Services: Assisting individuals in finding employment opportunities, such as career counseling and resume building.
Apprenticeships and Internships: Creating programs that combine hands-on learning with formal education under the guidance of experienced professionals.
Support for Underserved Populations: Focusing on providing workforce development opportunities to marginalized groups who face barriers to employment.
Alignment with Industry Needs: Ensuring that workforce development efforts are aligned with industry skill requirements.
Lifelong Learning: Promoting a culture of continuous learning to help employees adapt to changing work environments and job roles.
Government and Policy Initiatives: Funding programs and creating policies that support training and education, and incentivizing partnerships between educational institutions, employers, and other stakeholders.
In March of 2023, Indiana had 171,000 unfilled jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, how should employers spend their time? Anti-bias training or workforce development initiatives to fill critical jobs? I understand that this question does not have to be an either/or proposition. At the same time, when resources are limited, I believe the choice is clear.
Equipping individuals with the skills they need to succeed in the workforce (workforce development) contributes to reducing unemployment, poverty, and income inequality, while also supporting the competitiveness of industries and the broader economy. But here's the catch.. a growing percentage of those who could fill these 171,000 unfilled jobs look like me. Workforce development work is DEI work, and DEI work is workforce development work.