Apr 15, 2016 03:51 AM EDT

Bias At Work: Hiring And Promotions Come From Unconscious Discriminations

By Jane Reed

Racism, sexism and other types of discrimination are still evident in today's society and culture. Beth Cobert, President Obama's nominee to head the Office of Personnel Management, decides to speak out about confronting this unseen, but transparently felt, discrimination.

Cobert attended the OPM's diversity and inclusion summit at the Coast Guard headquarters on Tuesday. She opened with: "As many of you know, one of the most challenging barriers to diversity and inclusion is unconscious bias." This is a common and heard of issue in the professional world.

Which is why she zones in on the work environment. For her, it starts in the workplace. She describes how difficult it is to grapple with something unconscious but when it's evident in the hiring or promotion process, then something has to be done. She calls it the "like me bias." It's a discrimination coming from senior management and leaders that are looking to hire and promote people who are like themselves. "A white male will select a white male, for example," Cobert says.

This example may be a bit extreme when it comes to racism at work but this type of discrimination is still evident today. According to the Washington Post, OPM is trying to do a good job at increasing diversity and inclusion in the federal government. However, Darlene H. Young, the President of the Blacks in Government, says "I think there is some heavy lifting with that whole SES program."

That is the reason why Cobert wants to focus on tackling the hard stuff - the barriers to diversity and advancement in careers and growth. She believes that diversity and inclusion should be priorities.

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