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PODCAST: Disrupting unconscious bias in hiring

Book open Reading time: 27 mins
To check out the full podcast, click here

“If you have a brain, you have bias.” Subject to Talent welcomes Consciously Unbiased founder Ashish Kaushal for this month’s episode, guest hosted by AGS Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) Marketplace Manager Brooke Stovall. In addition to founding this grassroots movement and organization promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Ashish is also the CEO of the contingent staffing firm, HireTalent. Together, Brooke and Ashish discuss unconscious bias and how workplace I&D conversations often overlook contingent workers, and how addressing this missing piece can help organizations truly advance hiring, retention and inclusion of diverse talent in the workplace.


Bruce Morton: Welcome to Subject to Talent, Brought to you by Allegis Global Solutions. Similar to you, we're always trying to learn more. On this podcast, we speak to workforce and talent experts from around the world, covering market trends, technology, and our ever-evolving dynamic industry.

Hi, I'm Bruce Morton, the host of Allegis Global Solutions, Subject to Talent podcast. Today I'll be handing over the microphone to my friend and colleague Brooke Stovall. Brooke is the inclusion and diversity marketplace manager for Allegis Global Solutions. On this episode, she'll be joined by Ashish Kaushal, the founder of Consciously Unbiased, the grassroots movement and organization promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Ashish is also the CEO of the contingent staffing firm, HireTalent. Together, they'll be discussing Unconscious Bias and inclusion and diversity (I&D) best practices in the workplace. Let's listen in.

Brooke Stovall: Hello. I am Brooke Stovall and I'm excited to guest host this month's episode of Allegis Global Solutions Subject to Talent podcast. Today I'm joined by Ashish Kaushal, a leader in the workforce solutions industry who is on a mission to connect the hearts and mind of people across the organizations and industries to spark behavior change and drive inclusion. Welcome Ashish, how are you today?

Ashish Kaushal: I'm good. How are you?

Brooke: Doing well, doing well. I really appreciate you joining me today and I'm very excited to dig into today's topic of unconscious bias and best practices for business leaders and HR in the workplace. But before we get started, we always like to ask every guest the same first question. How did you get into the workforce industry and what was your journey to where you are today?

Ashish: Oh boy, I love this question actually, because everyone's story is always different because no one actually plans to get into this industry. So I studied computer science in college and then when I graduated, I went to Accenture and after Accenture, I joined this internet incubator where we were investing in startups and then helping them sort of grow and eventually hopefully go public. And this is all during the .com boom. And during those times when we were investing, I would take on roles for either head of technology or head of HR and build out these teams. And I was using staffing agencies to help scale. And I found that a lot of times they were throwing paper at me and it was creating more work than actually doing stuff. So I said, "You know what, let me change this." So when the economy started collapsing and the .com bubble kind of burst, I said, "Let me build a business where I can actually help technology companies find better candidates using a better recruiting method."

And so rather than just sort of reading paper, how do we vet candidates and make them specialists in different areas? And so that's kind of how I started. And then fast forward to eight years later, again, adversity bill's innovation and opportunity. And so 2008, the economy's collapsing again. And we were primarily doing full-time and statement of work (SOW) consulting work for clients. And so our big clients were like, "We're not going to be hiring on the full-time stuff anymore for the next year or so because the markets shifted. So why don't you join the MSP programs?" And so I was like, "Okay, what's that?" And so we went through that and we did really well the first quarter, but then we got the scorecard and I was like, "Oh, you're measuring the journey, not just destination." So we quickly revamped how we compensated our recruiters to make sure that they align with the SLAs for the scorecard.

And that's sort of how we got into the MSP space. And then fast forward, 10 years later, and diversity was always a core of our value. We built our organization with diversity of thought. So we had different people from different socioeconomic, cultural, religious, sexual orientation backgrounds. And the idea was that even though we all may look differently, if we don't come from different backgrounds, because we all have multiple layers of who we are, then you're honestly not going to have diversity of thought. And that's where we're trying to get to. And so about two and a half years ago, I was looking at our opportunities and I was like, "We have about an 80% diverse candidate pool." And I see clients are always asking to hire diverse candidates from their leadership perspective, but the ultimate- and putting pressure on HR and procurement to find that talent and the staffing agencies as well.

But the ultimate decision maker, who's a hiring manager isn't necessarily buying into the process. And so I was like, "Why is this?" And so I started thinking about training and we spend $8 billion a year on training to get employees to become more embracing, to embrace diversity and inclusion. And it's not really working. And the reason for that is because number one, I took a fact and said, "Okay, we're so polarized right now in society where the left and right speak past each other." And everyone feels like they're the victim. And so commonality builds understanding. So I'm like, "Okay, we're all victims. So let's start there."

And then I started thinking about the training and I was like, "We're spending this much money on training, but it's not resonating. And it's for two reasons. One is in our efforts to be inclusive, we've made training generic. And ultimately, you don't change behavior unless you connect the mind and heart. And then the second piece is if you end up going through the training and you're actually interested in it, then a lot of it stemmed on guilt and guilt is one way to motivate people. But I think inspiration and motivation is a more effective way for the masses.

And so I started thinking about how we reframe the argument and say, let's say biases are based on life experiences, how we grew up, our family values, our community and part of it's about survival, so let's own it. Let's be proud about it. Now it's just a matter of how you apply your biases in the right situations. And so that's kind of how we got started.

Brooke: I love that. What a very interesting story and you're right, we all have a unique path and journey into this industry and yours is just as exciting. So thank you for sharing that. What I’d love to get into, I love the name of your company, Consciously Unbiased. And this might seem like an obvious question, but I don't want to take for granted where our listeners are at. So tell me what is unconscious bias? Help define that for us. And then I know that within your company, you all have a unique saying concerning bias. So I'd love for you to share that with us.

Ashish: Absolutely. So unconscious bias is defined as learned stereotypes that are automatically, unintentional and deeply ingrained in our ability to influence behavior. And so we don't even realize it. At Consciously Unbiased, we say, "If you have a brain, you have bias." It's part of being human and not something to feel bad about. Biases are based on a few things such as our life experiences and our biology, our brains are built to categorize things. Biases help us navigate that world and make decisions. So ultimately it's not about eliminating biases. It's about first acknowledging that we have them and then managing them better. We don't want to normalize biases that are harmful and discriminatory, but it's also not about judging or naming or shaming. It's about being able to identify when your biases are showing up in a way that harms rather than helps to create change.

Brooke: I love that. If you have a brain you have bias. And I think that is a very safe up approach and ideal that we all have it, even us as practitioners, even us that live in this space all day, every day, working to make change, we all have our own biases, but to your point, it's about recognizing those and then especially when they have the ability just to do harm to others or to situations and then what you're going to do about it. So I love that. I love that. Thank you for sharing.

Ashish: Absolutely.

Brooke: So where would, when you think about the work within companies and organizations, how do some of our own biases hinder us from real true growth within our organizations? When you're talking about moving the needle forward and getting better in our diversity efforts?

Ashish: Oh, absolutely. So biases impact us when we're unable to clearly see ourselves and see each other for who we really are and make snap judgment and assumptions about others. Right? So that one makes you miss out on talent that you may have ordinarily looked at, but your bias has gotten in the way of it. And she missed out on somebody who's great. And then number two, it affects how you collaborate with each other, right? And so there's a real true ROI on making sure that you manage your biases. There's a lot of real-world impact on bias in the workplace. So research shows, it impacts how we show up as individuals and on our overall culture. For example, 33% of people report feeling alienated when they come to work, when they feel bias at work. Imagine feeling like you aren't seen in the place of work by your coworkers and the leadership, that feeling of isolation can impact your engagement and productivity.

So if you make it more inclusive, we're going to work harder, we're going to stay longer and we're going to be more committed. And so I think that you'll see an ROI just from those three things. Also 34% of people state that they withhold ideas and solutions at work because they don't feel welcome. So if you feel alienated and isolated, you can imagine that you wouldn't participate as often as you would if you felt comfortable. The thought of, "Well, they don't respect me in this position anyway, so why am I going to waste my time and bring ideas to the table?" And so these expectations and experiences really lower a person's morale, so you're not getting the most out of the worker that you could because you haven't created that environment.

Lastly, 80% would not refer people to their employer, right. And so think about this from a leadership perspective, if your company has a lot of turnover and the workers that are there, aren't willing to refer people, then that's really affecting your ability to attract and retain talent. So the isolation, alienation and withholding of ideas can lead to low emotional engagement, increased absenteeism, higher turnover and lower client satisfaction. So it makes sense that company should focus on employees on unconscious bias, but in order for training to be effective, making people feel bad, generally, isn't a good motivation to change on their thoughts and behaviors. So some people out there become aware of something bad and respond by trying to solve it. Others simply don't respond and don't change behavior. But however, the majority of us are on that curve, myself included, that respond by getting defensive, when someone points out our differences, missing the opportunity to connect and come up with solutions together. So I think positivity is a really key portion of how you approach bias in the workplace.

Brooke: Very, very insightful. And I think you said it best at the beginning of the idea that diversity builds innovation. And when you share those stats of how many people don't share ideas, how many people don't truly bring their full selves to work and the percentage of people who won't even refer others, that is a direct impact to a business and their ability to move forward, to stay relevant, to advance, within all industries. And without diversity within an organization – and we're talking about diversity of thought, not just, race or gender that we oftentimes immediately jump to, when we hear the word diversity – but all of the different aspects that encompass and make us as people and who we are. When we lack that within an organization, business is halted, business stops. So I love the importance of why it matters to be so aware of our own biases that we have that can impede us from welcoming people who might just be different than us into our organizations, into our teams and making everyone feel like they belong.

Ashish: Absolutely.

Brooke: Now you were, you were commissioned with SIA on an article. That was a great article on the future of diversity and inclusion in the contingent workspace. And within that article, you shared that D&I corporate infrastructure enables program success, stating that passed beyond executive leadership and data measurement, having a clear code of conduct, D&I training and education and clear contingent D&I ownership within the organization as most important. Why would you rate those as the things that would be most important to an organization?

Ashish: My company's report found that about 59% of respondents surveyed think that a code of conduct for contingent workers treatment is very important. This clarity provides that entire workforce with an understanding of how contingent workers fit into the overall workforce experience to maximize success. The survey also found that 49% think D&I and education for hiring managers is vital since the same managers tend to hire for both full-time and contingent workers. Think about it, if manager hold tremendous power in advancing inclusion in the workplace and the hiring and retention of diverse talent, right? You need both of those things to happen. And you can't really alienate a subsection of your total workforce, right?

And so knowing who wants contingent D&I helps move the needle because success depends on holding the leaders accountable for achieving their D&I goals for your contingent work for it to be a collaboration across department heads such as D&I, HR, procurement, marketing, and other areas. Running diversity initiatives is like running a business. If I was hired to run a D&I division within my organization, and I got 2% year over year growth, you'd probably fire me from that division, right? So let's set goals that are realistic, but let's also set goals that are achievable and that stretch us.

Brooke: I love that. Running diversity is running a business and oftentimes organizations see the diversity and inclusion efforts as this kind of side project, or other piece of initiatives that are just kind of in the organization and sometimes fail to make them truly part of their business goals and objectives. And you are right, if any other department that was tasked with any type of growth, whether it's revenue, product, so on and so forth, didn't show up and perform at the end of the year. And they had 2% profit and their goal was 15%, there'd be a very serious conversation being held with the leaders of that group to say, "What happened? What were you doing?" But you're right. Very rarely do we have those same type of conversations when we talk about diversity within an organization, oftentimes it's because we first don't start to make any goals of actually where we're trying to go.

And you said it, making goals a reality is key. So we have to have those conversations to say, "Hey, where are we at? Where do we want to go? And then how are we going to get there?" And then measuring that to say, "Hey, year over year, just as you look at your numbers and profitability, those same type of ideals apply to diversity within an organization to make all places companies where people want to go." We are very talented people and we're just looking for a place to take our talents and to shine. So I love that running a diversity is running a business and we have to start looking at it the same.

Ashish: Yeah. And you also said, I mean, the measuring part is key also. I always say, if you don't measure it, you can't achieve it.

Brooke: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think absolutely in our industry, we're always talking about what gets measured gets done. So if you have a metric to it that you're going to hold me to it or ask me about it in a certain period of time, I'm going to make sure that it is designed and built that every day I'm working towards achieving it. And we have to have that same mindset towards diversity. You're absolutely right. Starts with our leadership, of course. And then it trickles down, especially to hiring managers who make the decisions and you touched on it and we're talking about contingent because for so long, diversity and inclusion initiatives within organizations have primarily, always been focused on their full-time employees.

But the contingent workspace is such a large portion of a company's population that have been left out. And we all know that oftentimes even in the contingent space they're hired on and working on very important projects that are going to be revenue generating or new innovative ideas for a company. And somehow we forgot about them. So I love to just kind of explore a little more why it's important to look at the total workforce, meaning both your full time and your contingent when implementing goals.

Ashish: Oh, absolutely. I think if you really want to make an impact on belonging and diversity in the workforce, you have to look at the whole population. And if you look at Google, for example, 50% of the workforce is contingent, right? And so, for example, if I had an initiative to increase my women in technology within my organization, by 30%, and I ignored half the population that's, which is a contingent labor population, then the most I can ever achieve, if I hit my 100% target is 15%. Because I've ignored basically half the workforce that's going to influence the culture and who works there. Right? And so I think traditionally you've seen diversity been applied across full time, and then they've not really applied it across the contingent labor piece.

And I think then there was a trend where contingent labor was trying to set their own goals. And so that didn't work either, because I think you have to really bring HR, procurement, D&I together and say, what are our overall goals for diversity? And then how do we replicate across every single workforce category? And so I think it's really time to meet the moment if your D&I initiatives focus only on full-time employees, that's an amazing opportunity for you to bring your employees together, to advance inclusion across your entire workforce, including contingent labor.

Brooke: Yeah. I love that. And you mentioned that all teams working together, so it's HR, it's your business leaders and continue your suppliers. All of everyone who has an interest in seeing the progression all need to come to the table and have the conversation. And you're right, for so long, those type of things were happening in silos or individuals where you had the supplier have their own goals that they're trying to achieve, the company or the client had their own goals. And oftentimes they don't talk to all get on the same page, especially when they are supporting or working together. So I love that idea that all parties involved need to all be in the room and be on one accord to say, "Here's what we're trying to achieve. Here's where we're trying to go. How do each of us kind of fit into this puzzle to achieve that?"

So I love that point. We all have to work together. And then when you see that happening, I think even that trickles down to your people, because then the people who work for those organizations truly do see the commitment of all the parties to say they all join forces, they're all together. So that truly will impact and show how they think about me as a person. We all do matter.

Ashish: Absolutely. And when you think about it, today's society, especially because of what's happened with COVID, we've essentially said you can work from anywhere, anytime, at any point. Right? And so if you're doing that, then you're already sort of organically creating culture of inclusion if you do it right. And I think the next step is to have sort of diversity groups also offer the training to contingent labor, right? Because when you leave, if I've gone through this training, one, I'm going to make it a better work environment for everybody who I work with, full-time or contingent. But then number two is when I leave, I tell the marketplace, "Oh my God, I had such a great experience here. You guys should check this out and it increases your talent pool."

Brooke: Absolutely, oftentimes, and over the course of my career, I probably spent maybe two years as a contractor before. And when you look around and you're in organizations and you think, "Wow, I would love to receive this type of training. I would like to participate in these type of events." I think you're absolutely right where that large population of candidates that are contractors or the contingent labor within an organization miss out on receiving the education and training that a full-time employee gets. They go back out into the workforce again ... I don't want to say unprepared, but they're not the best that they could be when they go on to the next company.

Oftentimes being a contractor is a choice. Sometimes they get a bad rap of a contract worker, but that's a personal choice that fits their lifestyle, their talent and skill that they want to take to different organizations and share to make them better. So why should we deny them full access to education training that truly will help make them, not only a better professional, but a better person as well by receiving this type of unconscious bias training and so on and so forth. So I agree. I think when we talk about training, it should be available to everyone because, to your point, when they leave your organization, they've completed a project, they've helped you put a new product out on the shelf or into the industry and they go somewhere else, they're going to leave a better person to help now serve a different organization and bring their full and best self there.

But to your point that you made prior where people don't want to recommend and make referrals back to those organizations, now that person's going to have a different view because you not only served them professionally for them to share their talent, but you served and cared about them as a person and offered them training. And they're going to absolutely share with others, "Hey, guess what I received, or guess what I went through when I was at this organization, that will be a great place for you to work as well."

Ashish: Absolutely. And we have to remember that being nice and inclusive is not a co-employment risk.

Brooke: It's not. I would challenge everyone today. Just go up and just be nice, say hello, maybe smile at someone. It might be the only smile that someone gets today. So your smile could really change the course of someone's day or just a friendly, hello. And I will say, I moved, I relocated from the Midwest down to the south and I'm a natural, I'm always smiling, saying hello and I truly fit in down south because that's the way. So be nice. I love it. I love it.

So according to a Glassdoor diversity hiring survey, 67% of job seekers consider workplace diversity an important factor when considering employment opportunities. So what are some best practices that you think companies should adopt to help themselves and not only attracting and retaining a more diverse candidate pool, but also devising the hiring process?

Ashish: It's funny you mentioned this because so many companies have asked us for this type of training. And so we actually built something around this called “UB hiring,” which is unconscious bias hiring. How do you take the bias out of your process? And so we're experiencing labor shortage and yet there's many untapped talent pools that you traditionally have been ignored, but bring tremendous value to the workplace. Whether it's neurodiverse talent, people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated veterans, and so many others. Finding untapped talent might require changing some of your approaches to recruiting untapped talent pools, such as people with disability, nervous talent might not regularly present on online job boards or your existing candidate pools. Other factors might prevent certain groups from applying, even if they don't know about a job or an opening, because they've just heard that you're not really open to those ideas, right?

And yet recruiters are bringing untapped talent, but hiring managers have unconscious bias that impact who gets the job. And so some ways to de-bias the hiring process include making job descriptions more inclusive. So who you attract is directly related to the words and phrases that you use in job ads. As a matter of fact, data suggests that job openings advertise that use inclusive language, fill 17% faster and attract 23% more female candidates. So it's about being mindful to use inclusive language rather than gender words, for example. Also by creating criteria that makes it impossible for certain groups to apply, you indirectly exclude them from the recruitment process. And so we don't want to do that.

Second thing is branding and messaging matters. One way to attract untapped talent is to amplify that you value diversity and care less about cultural fit, which perpetuates the same type of hiring people, right? And care more about growing teams of people with different backgrounds and mindsets. For example, share why diversity and inclusion matters when speaking about roles with candidates.

And then the third thing I would do is de-biasing the interview process, which is obviously important. A good rule of thumb is to ask the same skill and value-based interview questions consistently across candidates for your role to reduce the chance of bias in the interview process. Also it's about intentionally making sure that your interview panels are diverse to avoid similarity bias.

And I always say, build a matrix of what's really important to the job and then objectively put the candidates on the left column and on the top, put the skills that are important and then give it a weightage for each piece and then write down how each person did. And if you look at that, you kind of take the bias out of the interview process because you're objectively looking at the results of what happened. And you can't really argue with that when you see it on paper.

Brooke: And these all sound like very simple things that companies can implement just to start doing it. Sometimes we think there's these grandiose ways that we can attract and retain our talent better and faster, but they're not, they're just simple. You think about your job description and the must-haves versus the nice-to-haves. We probably oftentimes have more nice-to-haves that we call must-haves. And then you're missing out on a large pool of candidates who are actually qualified for your position. And I read this stat before where it says, oftentimes women won't apply to a position unless they have all the qualifications where men can have two of the 10 and they're going to apply. And it's simply when you think about that, your job descriptions, and especially in today's world where we're looking, oftentimes companies are looking to hire more women into their organizations.

Well, if your job description is already eliminating majority of women from applying to your position, you're never going to reach your goals. So like you said, the language that we use in there really looking at, what are the core qualifications to perform this job and let that be it. And you'll be amazed, the type of people and the amount of people that will then start applying to your positions. And then the type of diversity that you'll see amongst the applicants when you start having conversations and interviewing them.

Even with someone's unique background that you might think a person has to have this type of degree or this type of experience to perform the job. But then you, when you actually have conversations with people and you find sometimes their own life experiences or other positions that they pale that give them a different perspective to this new job, this is where some innovation happens because it's not the same to everyone else that might already be on your team. And to that idea of culture fit. I think a lot of companies we've always rested on that. Well, they're not a culture fit. When I hear that, that means I'm not just like everyone else.

Ashish: Absolutely.

Brooke: That's what culture fit means. I'm not like everyone else that's already within your organization. So how can we say on one hand we want diversity within our organization, but then we're going to say you have to be the culture fit. That means I have to be the same. So looking at those type of things seem like small, but easy changes that we can make to help ourselves.

Ashish: I love when people say “must be self-motivated” in the job description. That's kind of just telling you that they need to work hard, right. But are you going to put, "Doesn't need to be that motivated," if you didn't want that? I don't think it really makes sense. Those are signals that you're telling people, “Well, if I have other responsibilities then this probably isn't the right role for me." And so I think those are not needed in these roles, in these positions.

Brooke: I agree. I agree. So I've never known and I've interviewed plenty of people over the course of my career. Never had anyone come in and sit before me or interview over the phone and say, "I'm not really motivated to work." So, no, I don't think anyone's ever said that in an interview. So why would it need to be a requirement in the description? But these are the things I don't think we think about when we're building out a job description. Some of it's obvious. We all want to work. We all want our work to matter, and we're going to show up and give our best because that's what we want to do. If I have a skill and a talent and I want to share it, I'm not going to show up and be average, or have half effort when I come to work.

Ashish: Absolutely.

Brooke: No need to have it on the job description. I also heard this interesting fact about job descriptions as well, you mentioned when we talk about persons with disabilities, whether it is visual or not. And when a job description is a page and a half long, who's going to stop and read through all of that? Sometimes that's overwhelming for a potential candidate, a page and a half long job description. You could have got that down five bullet points of what you needed for the role. And now someone actually focused on it and apply versus they could scroll up if you're on a job board. And I think that speaks to our diversity, how we all interact with job boards and so on and so forth differently that one person may feel overwhelmed by a job description that's a page and a half long and scroll away and that could have been your person. And so all of those – I love that – just tiny tweaks and things that we can make that will help us be better. And you have the training to help companies and organizations do that.

Ashish: Yeah. And I also think it's also how you view talent, right? For example, I had done this talk at Medtronic Affairs back and we were talking about autistic children and stuff, right. And so I was like, "Has anyone seen the movie Rain Man?" And they'll raise their hand in the audience. And I said, "Do you remember Dustin Hoffman's character?" And they said, "Yes." And they kind of screamed it out loud. And so they got excited about it. And so I was like, "I studied computer science in college, but he could run circles around me in math." Right. And so I go, "As managers, we need to put people in the right spots. And so if you put somebody with a skillset and honing on what they're really good at in a role that they're amazing with, you're going to get better ROI in them than you would, what you call normal, if you call me normal." Right. And so it's about, instead of having people manage to us, we have to learn how to become managers and motivate people better.

Brooke: And I think that's a responsibility. Oftentimes as a manager, to meet people where they are, to get the best out of them, not expect them to always change to us and make our lives easier. This is the responsibility of being in leadership. It's difficult and it's not for everybody, but you're absolutely right. Of the people that you manage, the people that you're responsible for in helping to foster their growth and getting the best out of them is, you have to go to where they're at, meet them where they're at, and then you'll know how to bring the best out of them. And oftentimes you just will find it's different than the way you would've done things.

Ashish: Absolutely.

Brooke: And that's okay. Because diversity builds innovation. Now, personally, as an I&D practitioner, I believe in finding a way to get in the way. Basically being a disruptor. It's what we do. So tell me, how do you get in the way?

Ashish: For me, it's first about driving awareness because you can't solve an issue. If you don't know it exists and people aren't educated about it. It's interesting, in our training, we always start off with, "Do you think you have bias?" And 90% of the people in the company feel like they don't. And by the time we finish it, they're like, "Oh, I do have some biases." And then it comes down to 30% still feel like they don't have biases, but 70% basically realize they do have biases. And so that first step is sort of understanding that. And so at Consciously Unbiased, we do this by amplifying conversations we think need to be amplified with our regular LinkedIn live sessions based on everything, from how to close a racial gap, to ageism in the workplace, as well as Breaking Bias podcasts, that features impact makers who are part of the change.

And we've even done things around menopause and mental health in the workplace. And so the idea is that diversity comes in a lot of different layers and flavors. And so if you start highlighting those things, then I think people become more aware of them, that's how they start solving them. And then the next thing is about creating action stuff for change. And so it's one thing to go through training, but how do you integrate this through your day-to-day lives? And so that's where we kind of came up with micro progressions, which are small action steps that have big impacts over time.

So it helps build belonging. And so ultimately, if you think about it, if I can change two or three behaviors and you change two or three behaviors, and maybe they aren't the same ones, but over a course of a whole organization, if you get that to happen, you start changing the D&I, make it more culturally inclusive. And then finally it's about disrupting the way companies have traditionally looked at D&I, but focusing only on their FT and trying to tap into the power of collaboration by creating a committee to provide industry consensus and narrow, the definition of co-employment is another area that we're trying to disrupt. So any barriers we can remove to provide D&I measures for extending the extent of workforce, I think is key sort of solving this issue.

Brooke: I especially love trying to be a disruptor to co-employment. Because we oftentimes- that's a barrier, especially on the contingent side.

Ashish: Yeah, no, absolutely. I read an article last year about co-employment. And so in our efforts to sort of manage the risk that we already own, right? Because every company who says they don't want to deal with co-employment, they want the suppliers to sort of handle it. Reality is that if something happens, the person with the biggest wallet's going to deal with it. And so they already own this issue, but the things we put in place to sort of pretend we don't have it, let's give them different key cards or let's give them different color badges or different emails, or let's not invite them to the office party. What you're really you doing is systematically creating Me Too movements for somebody. And that is going to be a larger issue. It's going to affect your stock price. If somebody comes out feeling like they were discriminated against. And so we're just managing the wrong risk.

Brooke: So I'm very interested to keep tabs on what's going on with that, because it has forever been an issue in the workplace that creates division and separation when we're trying to do the exact opposite within our organization. So keep getting in the way on that. So as we come to an end, on our conversation, we always like to think about the future and what's ahead. So if you had a crystal ball and could look into the future a few years out, what do you think the industry will look like? Or what would you like to see the industry look like?

Ashish: I mean, I think we're going through a lot of changes right now, or I think you're going to see a tremendous amount of innovation. Distributed teams are going to be the core of how we make things happen. I do think there's going to be a little bit of reversal. Because right now everyone's working remote that there's still this need to see each other and have a human interaction. It's just, how are those tools going to help us get back together in a way that's productive, but not necessarily every day. And so I think D&I is going to be front and center. I think you're going to see more inclusive. The companies that basically are inclusive are the ones that are going to be the ones that survive. And I think the ones that ignore the issue are the ones that are going to have a talent deficiency, which is ultimately going to affect their ability to succeed. So I think those are the trends are converging.

Brooke: I agree. I agree with those. So more to come, we're going to keep forging ahead with our efforts in making and helping companies be better organizations for people to work. I mean, we are in a crisis where there are more openings than there are people. We are experienced the great resignation. And I had a fellow practitioner share with me that we're now in the great recognition that we're all recognizing that this work D&I initiatives, not only on our full-time employees, but in our contingent space, it's in the forefront now and we can't continue to ignore it. We have to address it full-on. And so I thank you so much for joining me today. This has been an awesome and insightful conversation. Where should our listeners go, if they want to learn more about Consciously Unbiased?

Ashish: They can go to our website, consciouslyunbiased.com or our Instagram is another great place to see things that are happening and also follow our page on LinkedIn.

Brooke: Perfect. Well, thank you again for joining us, I look forward to following you and all of the awesome work that Consciously Unbiased will continue to do and seeing how you all get in the way.

Ashish: Thank you. This is an honor, to be on this with you guys. And Brooke, I'm so excited, I think you're a game-changer and I'm excited to see where you take this industry.

Brooke: I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Ashish: Thank you.

Brooke: Have a good day.

Ashish: You too.