You might have noticed by now, but we love a good TED talk! Alongside the pandemic, how to ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace has rightly become a hot topic for businesses and HR professionals.

hr ted talks

So, we’ve compiled a list of TED talks discussing diversity, the benefits an inclusive workforce can bring to a company, and practical steps business leaders can take to encourage this within their organisation.

1. The power of diversity within yourself | Rebeca Hwang

Rebeca Hwang has Korean heritage, with an Argentinian upbringing and an American education. Many people, like Rebeca, with a mixed upbringing, struggle to identify the place they can call ‘home’. But Rebeca has discovered that having a mixture of culture and identities helps her stand out and it has allowed her to act as a bridge between groups with conflicting ideas.

For companies, employees like Rebeca offer an advantage. Many businesses are no longer limited to national borders in terms of their customer reach and services. Having a workforce that understands, relates to and can speak on behalf of your customers means that you can better resonate with your audience.

2. What baby boomers can learn from millennials at work – and vice versa | Chip Conley

With many older employees working beyond retirement age, we are seeing more generations in the workplace at the same time, meaning a wider range of skills, knowledge and experience. Imagine what it would be like if these were shared effectively across your workforce? Unfortunately, stereotypes for both younger and older employees, alongside an exaggerated polarisation by the media, can hinder their ability to collaborate well.

Entrepreneur, Chip Conley, explains how people should recognise and look past the bias they hold towards different age groups, and says that by encouraging multi-generational mentoring in the workplace, age diversity can make companies stronger.

3. Color blind or color brave? | Mellody Hobson

Race is never a comfortable conversation. Hearing about very different perspectives or experiences stemming from someone’s ethnic background can leave people feeling shocked or stunned. It can be hard to know where and when is the right moment to speak up or respond, so you might think it’s best to stay out of the conversation.

But finance executive Mellody Hobson says that’s exactly why we need to talk about race. She argues that ‘colour blindness’ or ‘not seeing colour’ doesn’t take away the fact that the problem exists. As with any other issues, if we want to find solutions, we have to openly discuss it, however difficult it may be. She encourages that instead of being colour blind, people should be ‘colour brave’ and speak openly about race, particularly if we want to improve diversity in hiring. By doing so, the minority groups in your workforce can feel empowered, knowing their voices are heard and acknowledged.

4. Eliminating Microaggressions: The Next Level of Inclusion | Tiffany Alvoid | TEDxOakland

‘A microaggression is a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group’, according to lawyer Tiffany Alvoid.

Intentional or not, microaggression is very common, and the workplace is no exception. Certain phrases and sayings, seemingly harmless on the surface, can have a damaging impact on an individual or group of people over a period of time. Tiffany compares this to a paper cut: one paper cut on your finger might sting a little, but several similar cuts on your body can be extremely painful. In her talk, she explains how microaggressions manifest themselves and how we can take conscious efforts to prevent this from continuing in our environment.

5. Unconscious bias: Stereotypical hiring practices | Gail Tolstoi-Miller | TEDxLincolnSquare

According to CEO, Gail Tolstoi-Miller, it takes only six seconds for a recruiter to review a CV and determine whether they move to the next round. Unconscious bias is widely discussed in relation to the more obvious identifiers, e.g. race, gender, disability or age. But in fact, we can have unconscious bias about almost everything: from the home address written on a job applicant’s CV to what shoes they wear to the interview.

While such individual bias might seem harmless, a collection of them at each stage of your decision-making process can hinder you from reaching objective conclusions. For example, by disqualifying someone for their educational background, it can limit your ability to hire the person best suitable for the role. Gail talks about her own story of bias during her time as a recruiter, her process of recognising her own prejudices and how she has learnt to look past them, however big or small, with a simple two-word question.