Hi everyone. I’m so happy to be here this morning for what is now Scotiabank’s 8th year of collaborating with AMCHAM on this fantastic Women’s Leadership Conference.
I am proud that we continue to work with AMCHAM on this initiative. We’re here today to talk about Breaking the Bias. Bias impacts women, especially in the workplace and it’s important that we do what we can to raise awareness and dismantle those biases that inhibit advancements for women.
Bias includes the stereotypes and opinions which either consciously or unconsciously influence how we treat our co-workers, subordinates, associates and just about anyone we interact with.
While we know it’s morally wrong to treat someone differently based on prejudice it’s often impossible to avoid bias. No matter how unbiased we think we are, we may have subconscious negative opinions about people who are outside our group - the more exposed we are to groups of people, the less likely we are to feel prejudiced against others. Bias leads us to gravitate toward people who are like ourselves in terms of gender, race, age, income, personality type or some other factor.
Two years into the pandemic, shows us that we’re in a moment of crisis for women. Millions of women globally have been driven out of the workforce by Covid-19. Many more are struggling with burnout and considering downshifting their careers or leaving their jobs.
To avoid unwinding years of progress toward gender equality, companies need to take actions to support women in the workplace. Combating the biases women face at work is critical to getting this right.
Almost three in four women experience bias at work, and those who do are more likely to leave Women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities face more acute biases. Yet only one in three employees, including managers, challenges biased behavior when they see it.
Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough. We need to act.
Having women and other diverse voices in leadership roles is good for business and we, as business leaders, are responsible for working towards positive change. As an executive with years of experience leading international teams, I can share the following ideas when it comes to fighting bias:
1. Examine your own unconscious biases. Once we recognize our own biases — yes, we all have them! — we can address the reasons behind them and make conscientious behavioral change.
You can do this by striving to surround yourself with people who hold opposing points of view. Being challenged, rather than having every member of your team agree with you all the time is good; it often leads to more productive discussions and innovative solutions.
2. Speak up, or nothing will ever change. If every manager and employee were to speak up every time, they encountered bias in the workplace, we would have reached that elusive tipping point and effected lasting change long ago.
3. Encourage others to speak up. This may be the most important point of all. No matter what type of bias your team or organization may encounter, the key is meeting a critical mass of supporters. We also need male allies who understand how vital unbiased behaviors are to the success of the organization. Strengthening your relationships with both male and female leaders will help you build a solid team committed to speaking up and effecting lasting change.
As I just mentioned - allyship is key in breaking or fighting biasness. We need to come together to be active allies to women.
We can all help to advance a culture of inclusion by taking intentional, positive action to promote and support a group we may not necessarily be a part of.
Everyone deserves to bring their whole selves to work and thrive in an environment that is safe, inclusive and reflective of all communities.
EVERYONE can be an ally, and everyone can benefit from allyship. By dedicating yourself to education and action, we can learn how to stand up for our colleagues and to take accountability as strong and effective allies.
When we advocate for each other, we rise together.
I am proud to be a part of an organisation that truly values diversity and equality in the workplace. Terms such as ‘breaking the bias’ and ‘allyship’ are everyday actions for us and form a significant part of how we lead.
We know that the most important investment is the one we make in our people. We unlock our employees’ potential through bias-free practices and one set of inclusive values across Scotiabank.
Scotiabank has many initiatives, including Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that operate globally advancing diversity and inclusion mandates. Members are committed to educating and empowering women by supporting their personal and professional growth.
And our dedicated action has resulted in progress:
We’ve also made some bold moves in recent times in advancing our diversity and inclusion agenda:
Through employee feedback, 94% of our employees believe that the Bank is building and supporting an inclusive workforce.
I challenge all business leaders to take active steps to strengthen our organizations through diversity, drive innovation through our differences and constructive discussion, and to build a more inclusive culture by extending opportunities to all who are qualified. If a majority of people become committed to making small changes around this important issue, the implications are limitless.
Thank you for your time. I hope you enjoy the rest of the Conference and take away some great insights to help you make your own bold moves while we continue to Break the Bias and Ally On.
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