HP continues to address unconscious bias and diversity with Dads & Daughters

HP has been making great strides in its push towards a diverse and equal workforce. Through its outreach efforts to the African-American community through a collaboration between the company and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to its ongoing campaign to bring awareness to unconscious bias, the tech company has become a champion for diversity.

Its first public effort to combat unconscious bias – essentially social stereotypes that we make without being aware of them – was a video by HP called ‘Reinvent Mindsets: Let’s Get in Touch’. In it, we see African-American candidates getting the professional cold shoulder of “we’ll be in touch”, while looking dejected and disappointed. It was tagged with a powerful stat: “When qualified for a job, African-Americans are 3x more likely to experience a denial.” It ended on a positive note, however, with HP’s chief diversity officer Lesley Slaton Brown stating that HP is “hiring, and talent is our only criteria.”

The company is making great efforts to train managers, especially those doing the hiring, to be aware of unconscious bias and hire solely on the basis of talent.

In its latest video in the Reinvent Mindsets series, HP tackles gender bias through a powerful video pairing fathers and daughters talking about the tough process of job interviews. ‘Dads & Daughters’ pairs fathers and daughters having one-on-one discussions. The dads were asked to read generic interview tips for women that had been found online and talk about them with their daughters.

Tips included “Don’t wear too much perfume”, “Don’t be aggressive trying to negotiate your salary”, “Don’t look too hot”, “Don’t be chatty” and “Just found out you’re pregnant? Best to keep it to yourself for now”. The daughters, unsurprisingly, look exasperated. But as the dads read they spark a discussion about bias, strength and individuality.

The video hits home about the gender biases still rampant in hiring, especially in the tech industry, something HP is overcoming by its efforts.

“It’s about being able to have that conversation,” said Brown.

What sparked using the online tips for hiring was that Antonio Lucio, chief marketing officer at HP, talked to his daughter who had gone through an interview process. In doing so, she researched interview techniques online and found these “tips” on how women should act.

“She said, ‘you wouldn’t believe what was online,'” said Lucio.

HP then researched the subject and then talked with their internal groups, including a young women's professional network. They decided which tips, including the pregnancy one, should be used to spark conversation. Even some members of HP’s diverse board of directors evaluated the messaging, and the resulting tips and interactions were validated by internal and external audiences.

The next step in the Reinventing Mindsets series will be to address LGBT issues, said Lucio, adding that businesses that want to be more forward thinking in their diversity hiring need to see it as a business priority.

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