Workplace culture relics that don’t belong in the 21st century: Part 1

Workplace culture relics that don’t belong in the 21st century: Part 1

Organizations today, whether starting up or long-lived, have mostly adapted to the dynamics of 21st century workplace culture. It’s a necessity, as the priorities of industries have changed to reflect the emergence of a global economy.

However, some things are harder to change than others. They remain as relics of a bygone era with different values from the industries of today. At times these practices and habits are mostly harmless, but the worst ones contradict everything that elevates the 21st century workplace. Each week, we’ll pick apart one of the five worst workplace culture relics, and detail why and how they should be phased out.

Tolerating vestiges of sourcing and hiring discrimination

Employment practices have come a long way. Gone are the days when recruiters were expected to favor candidates with specific backgrounds. Today, gender, age, disability, educational attainment, and social background are each no longer as big of an obstacle as they used to be.

However, some traces of old discriminatory sourcing and hiring practices remain. Sometimes, these are innocent accidents like job ad templates not being updated to remove any references to gender or age. Sometimes certain members of the organization stubbornly maintain discriminatory practices, because they erroneously believe that these practices are more effective ways to hire the best people for the organization.

Deeply-rooted definitions of who qualify as “the best people” can be very difficult to revise. In the first place, they are based on a reasonable desire to improve an organization’s functions. Changing these definitions may require changing how sourcing and hiring processes are run, which is not something that any organization wants to experience abruptly.

There are ways to change these outdated biases without disrupting the momentum of an organization. Most of these methods involve special lectures or training modules that focus on labor laws and modern best practices that curb the use of discriminatory sourcing and hiring methods. Re-educating professionals, especially tenured ones who have been accustomed to outdated practices, can gain avenues to learning about the emergence and sustainability of equal-opportunity employment culture.

The key here is gradual change. Give all employees, whether new or tenured, the channels to begin understanding why certain practices are no longer appropriate. Provide these learning opportunities at a consistent and balanced pace, slow enough that everyone can catch up but quick enough that training time and resources are maximized.

And if gradual change is the key, the goal is complete alignment within the organization. The best way to permanently change workplace culture is to ensure that the change is reflected in every level of the organization. It must become the new standard for everyone to follow, without exception. In this way, the change will evolve into a habit, then become a norm, and finally solidify into a permanent dimension of the internal identity of the organization.

Through a process like this, any organization can gain a broader and deeper appreciation of the value of any professional in today’s industrial landscape. It is necessary, of course, to first embrace the reality that what is no longer appropriate must be changed.

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