A Conversation About Inclusion & Diversity: Managing the challenge of work assignments, and recommendations for overcoming unconscious bias.

As we seek to develop the next generation of leaders, we must examine how we assign work. 

Tackling Unconscious Bias

Inclusion and diversity are embedded in our core values and are vital to our firm’s ability to understand client issues and deliver differentiated solutions. As we’ve grown to nearly 1,000 people in 10 offices across the United States, fostering an inclusive environment becomes more challenging – but all the more important.

As part of a journey to strengthen our culture of inclusion, we began writing quarterly articles designed to stimulate conversation about relevant and sometimes challenging topics. The idea is that healthy and open dialogue is an essential prerequisite to breaking down the barriers to inclusion. We are energized by the feedback to date and excited to continue this conversation into a second year.

This quarter, we respond to an article in the Harvard Business Review titled, “For Women and Minorities to Get Ahead, Managers Must Assign Work Fairly”. The article proposes that businesses must try new techniques for addressing diversity and inclusion, including systemic changes to the way they run. In particular, the article focuses on processes for allocating tasks and projects to people.

The article's premise is that inequitable distribution of work assignments – both “office housework” (routine tasks such as taking notes or ordering food or coffee for a meeting) and “glamour work” (prime projects that can accelerate one’s career) – can undermine efforts to build an inclusive environment. Any time we fall back on “the way we’ve always done it” and fail to think broadly or creatively when making a business decision, whether assigning work or planning an out-of-office networking activity, we run the risk of fostering inequality.

This paper addresses how West Monroe is managing the challenge of work assignments, and recommendations for overcoming unconscious bias. 

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