Diversity and Inclusion: Elders and Staff

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We know that our population is aging and becoming more diverse. This is true for both Elders and the workers who support them in our communities.

Diversity includes our usually thought of categories like race and sex but also importantly includes things such as sexuality, religion, immigrant status and nationality.

Bias happens when we attach specific traits or attitudes to all members of a particular social group.

Bias can be:

  • Cognitive bias – stereotypes
  • Emotional bias – prejudice
  • Behavioral bias-discrimination

Biases can be conscious (we are aware) or unconscious (we are unaware).

Biases affect our thoughts, emotions and behaviors toward others that we perceive as different from us. They limit our ability to really know another person because they filter how we interpret what we learn about them.

Bias has consequences for people. Studies show that unconscious bias impacts real-world outcomes.

Here are a few examples of some common problems with bias:

  • White-sounding names get more call-backs than non-White sounding names on identical job applications.
  • Men rated as more competent and hirable in science-specific jobs than similarly qualified women.
  • Bias adversely influencing treatment decisions of health care professionals.

Person-centered care is inclusive and requires us to know each person. Inclusion means that all Elders and Staff are treated fairly, are respected and contribute to the organization’s success.

Diversity has been shown to be an asset in many organizations resulting in:

  • More innovation
  • Better problem-solving
  • More emphasis on facts
  • Better bottom-line outcomes

What are some problems related to bias at your organization?

  • Some Elders are unkind to certain staff based on social group membership.
  • Some Elders are unkind to certain staff based on social group membership.
  • Some workers feel excluded in the workplace.
  • Some Elders feel excluded from social activities because they do not “fit in.”
  • Some social groups are underrepresented in management positions.
  • Some social identities are purposely minimized in interactions to avoid conflict.
  • How can you enhance diversity and inclusion in your organization?
  • How can you combat bias in ways that support your Elders and your staff?

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