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How NTT DATA Business Solutions Deals with Unconscious Biases

(5 min read)

In the interview about ‘The Power of Unconscious Biases’, Dr. Sandrine El Sauaf, Global Head of Diversity & People Business Partner Headquarter, and Daniela Siekmann, Senior Specialist Controlling & Diversity Management, talked about unconscious biases and how they can impact the everyday work of those affected. Accordingly, it is necessary for companies that want to grant their employees equal opportunities to consciously deal with the topic of unconscious biases, so that discrimination and unfair preferential treatment can be curbed.  

In the following, you will learn what concrete measures NTT DATA Business Solutions is taking to deal with unconscious biases in the workforce.

How does NTT DATA Business Solutions deal with the problem of unconscious thinking patterns?

Dr. Sandrine El Sauaf: Our goal is to create a working environment in which all employees feel valued. This also includes avoiding unfair favoritism, which can arise from unconscious thought patterns. Therefore, first and foremost, we communicate to employees that the phenomenon of unconscious thought patterns exists and educate them about the fact that it is not reprehensible to have such patterns, as long as we are aware of them and constantly question our thinking patterns. To do this, it is important to create a culture in which unconscious biases are addressed openly and without reproach. Dealing openly with unconscious biases offers us all the opportunity to learn from them, therefore we are emphasizing a conscious approach to the topic.
Inclusive language is also an instrument for breaking away from some of these unconscious thought patterns. Even if it is not always easy at first to use certain wording consistently, inclusive language offers the opportunity to address everyone explicitly and to behave appreciatively toward all employees in the company.

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Daniela Siekmann: Furthermore, we offer training on the topic to raise awareness among managers and teams. As part of our unconscious-biases-trainings, we raise the awareness of our workforce to recognize and question typical thought patterns and to make judgments based on facts rather than just gut feeling. In this way, we strengthen teamwork and ensure better decision-making in our company. This awareness is also of great importance for our HR team when it comes to conscious and fair personnel selection in the application process. Otherwise, there is a risk of hiring more “mini-mes”.

Dr. Sandrine El Sauaf: The “mini-me” or homogeneity effect described by Daniela can also affect promotions. To avoid this, we are, for example, in the process of introducing cross-team alignment rounds for promotions. These help to make the promotion process even fairer, as different perspectives come together and the performance of employees is considered across teams, thus becoming more objective.

The importance of diversity for the innovative capacity of teams and how to deal with diversity in an appreciative manner is also conveyed in so-called “TetraMap” workshops. The aim of these practice-oriented seminars is to learn about our own behavioral preferences and those of our colleagues so that we can communicate and interact more successfully with others through more conscious, appreciative behavior. Here, the metaphor of nature is used to show that it is precisely through different perspectives that synergies arise and added value can be created for teams as well as their cooperation.

Daniela Siekmann: Finally, it is important for us to reduce gender-specific thought patterns that often exist in the IT industry. “More Women in Tech” is our motto. That’s why we show success stories of female employees who work in departments or positions that are considered male-dominated. In this way, we contribute to the empowerment and advancement of our female employees and at the same time position ourselves as an attractive employer for potential female applicants.

Conclusion:

The conversation with Dr. Sandrine El Sauaf and Daniela Siekmann points out that we all have automatically produced unconscious thought patterns. Therefore, it is essential to consciously address them to prevent effects such as discrimination or favoritism. In hiring processes and promotions, for example, the halo or mini-me effect can occur if our unconscious biases are not considered. Both lead to people being hired or promoted, or not, based on their personal characteristics, such as gender, appearance, social status, or character traits and not based on their real qualifications. NTT DATA Business Solutions is aware of these possible effects and aims to raise awareness with a package of measures consisting of educational work, creation of an open and reproach-free corporate culture, management trainings, cross-team alignment rounds, TetraMap workshops and campaigns such as the “Women in Tech” series.

Let’s #BreakTheBias together! Watch our video we’ve created for International Women’s Day 2022:

Learn more about what NTT DATA Business Solutions is doing to support an equal work culture:

Diversity Webpage

Or read part one of the interview:

“The Power of Unconscious Biases – And How We Can Escape Them”

Sandrine El Sauaf
Sandrine El Sauaf
Global Head of Diversity & People Business Partner Headquarter

Dr. Sandrine El Sauaf joined NTT DATA Business Solutions as Executive Assistant to the Board in 2017. While in this function she was able to participate in our internal businesswomen’s network from the very start. Since Diversity has always been an important topic for Sandrine, she loves to see how the women’s network evolved over the last years and grew into a diversity network which is now an inherent part of our organizational structure. In her current role as Global Head of Diversity & People Business Partner for the HQ, she has the chance to adjust and redefine processes, policies, and programs within NTT DATA Business Solutions. Thereby, Sandrine helps to strengthen the company culture which focuses on belonging and where everyone gets the chance to shine.

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