A Privileged White Male Talks About Bias
Paul Grimes is the cofounder of Elevator, a platform where companies pay you to connect with them.
Blind bias

Hi, my name is Paul. I'm a privileged white male, and I work in the tech industry. Today, I'm going to speak about unconscious bias and discrimination - something I've never personally experienced.

Now, I'm acutely aware that posting about bias and discrimination -something I've never experienced- is misguided, patronising, and likely to cause anger. Our startup is currently comprised of four white men; we have zero diversity at the moment. We have work to do.

Diversity is life itself. It has no downside. By choosing to work with people who hold different life experiences than yours, you inherently benefit from a diversity of thought in your business; there is no issue that can't be tackled with this power in your teams.

McKinsey mentioned in a 2018 study that "a diverse and inclusive employee base – with a range of approaches and perspectives – would be more competitive in a globalized economy", and that "ethnic/cultural diversity is correlated with profitability" - there's a great PDF download you can grab through the link above if you'd like to read more.

Unconscious bias is rampant in every industry, in every country, and usually rears its ugly head at the beginning of the connection process. It limits our ability to build diverse teams, and we miss out on growing business as a result.

Early-stage bias can be indirect - for example people's names. How many times has a person been automatically overlooked -no meeting needed- based on their name / surname? Or the implication of their gender from their first name? We all know this happens, all the time.

"Affinity" type biases appear later in the process. There are likely many people reading this who have directly or indirectly discriminated against based on their appearance, age, race, gender, disability, or sexual orientation. All because you didn't share the attributes of the person you met.

Of course, this needs to stop - it's illegal, but it continues. But will it stop? Will every contact between professionals and companies looking for new employees be free of unconscious bias, or straight-up discrimination? It's a lofty goal, and one we all need to strive towards.

"a diverse and inclusive employee base – with a range of approaches and perspectives – would be more competitive in a globalized economy

- McKinsey, "Delivering through diversity" 2018

Two weeks ago, we realised something and it hit us profoundly: Elevator could potentially eradicate all bias from the early stages of professional connection. Using Elevator, it's literally not possible for companies to be sexist / ageist / racist / ableist when it comes to connecting with professionals. All the company sees is a person's best current qualities - their profile, skills and experience, all in the context of what the company is looking for at the time.

We think this could be pretty big.

If you're from a minority or someone who has experienced systemic / casual bias or discrimination within your industry, Elevator is a place where it's impossible for people to discriminate against you before you connect with them to speak about opportunities.

If you're a company and you want to remove bias from your early interactions with potential employees, then Elevator is the place to do it. Elevator is a tool your company can use to address unconscious bias and enable business growth.

Get started with Elevator today at https://tryelevator.com

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and give me feedback on the early proofs of this post. Happy International Women's Day 2020 also!

Before I posted this piece, we contacted a number of people in our industry who have directly experienced racial, gender, LGBTIQ, age, or disability bias in their careers, just to make sure this post is not misplaced. Thanks to all of you - you know who you are!

The image we used in this post is by Analise Benevides on Unsplash.

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