In a midtown hotel in New York, 220 female bankers from the countries biggest institutions including Bank of America, PNC, and U.S. Bank gathered on Wednesday to talk about battling unconscious bias.
They were asked to raise their hands if they had some kind of diversity or inclusion program in their organizations. All hands went up. Unconscious bias or diversity training? All hands stayed up. Events for underrepresented groups like women of color or the LGBTQ community? All hands still stayed up. Blind resume review? All but a few hands lowered.
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Organized leadership and community building has done a lot in raising awareness of the importance of diversity, but little to make actual changes in company processes that eventually do show an impact both in company culture and the bottom line.
To make those changes, leaders will have to admit that bias exists. Even though they raise awareness and go through training, at the end of the day, it can be scary to be the person that signs off on real change, said Monica Cole, Wells Fargo’s group head of North region middle market banking.
“As hiring managers, we have to have the courage not to hire a rainmaker who does not believe in our values across all people,” she said. “That’s very hard to do when you have numbers to make; when you’ve had your eye on someone in the market that you know is right. It takes a lot of courage to say ‘[that’s] not the kind of person I want in my organization because he doesn’t reflect the values I believe in.’”
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