Pro Bono + Inclusive Leadership: Cognizance of Bias

A deep dive into how pro bono builds cognizance of bias, one of Deloitte’s Six Traits of Inclusive Leadership.
Apr 23, 2021 8:35 AM ET
Summary: 

Taproot Foundation and Deloitte co-created Pro Bono + Inclusive Leadership as free resource for businesses that demonstrates how Deloitte has leveraged pro bono as one way to help develop inclusive leadership traits and how other companies can do the same. This profile from that resource showcases how a professional at Deloitte has connected pro bono experiences to their own leadership development.

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Taproot Foundation and Deloitte co-created Pro Bono + Inclusive Leadership as free resource for businesses that demonstrates how Deloitte has leveraged pro bono as one way to help develop inclusive leadership traits and how other companies can do the same. This profile from that resource showcases how a professional at Deloitte has connected pro bono experiences to their own leadership development.

How Pro Bono Supports Cognizance of Bias

Exposing employees to diverse perspectives and challenges—by way of nonprofits and their beneficiaries—can help them be more aware of the assumptions they hold about the world around them.

Highly inclusive leaders are mindful of personal and organizational blind spots and self-regulate to help encourage “fair play.”The Six Traits of Inclusive Leadership

The Story: Alex Hilliker
Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Government & Public Services

When Alex Hilliker joined the Deloitte team seven years ago, he received an email inviting him to join a project with a military-related organization. That email—and the two years he spent on the project supporting veterans with disabilities—shaped the entire trajectory of his career. He was so inspired by that work that he took on pro bono projects for the Warrior Games and the Veteran Employment Task Force. His commitment to military and veteran issues has now extended beyond pro bono, through his paid, day-to-day client work with federal government agencies.

Alex’s exposure to the veteran community has transformed his understanding of bias in his personal and professional life. One limiting cultural perception he recognized was the portrayal of veterans as either heroes or victims. By working alongside veterans and gaining more exposure to that community, Alex made personal connections that broke down those biases. “We tend to group all veterans together,” Alex says, “but, of course, there are millions of veterans with different backgrounds and experiences.” Bridging the veteran-civilian gap is also an organization-wide priority at Deloitte, and his work has made great strides in this direction.

Being aware of these biases has helped Alex build programming at work that intentionally brings together differing groups and perspectives. “I’ve applied the idea of breaking down unconscious biases to make sure we bring together people from a variety of age groups, educational backgrounds, and cultural perspectives,” Alex noted, and he staffs projects accordingly. Alex relies on Business Chemistry®, a framework created by Deloitte that draws upon the latest analytics technologies to reveal four scientifically based patterns of behavior. The system is designed to provide insights about individuals and teams based on observable traits and preferences and helps leverage team members’ unique strengths.

“I’ve applied the idea of breaking down unconscious biases back to things like ‘business chemistry’ to make sure we bring together people from a variety of age groups, educational backgrounds, and cultural perspectives.”
—Alex Hilliker

Why it Matters

Unrecognized biases can often narrow leaders’ perspectives and potentially prevent them from making fair and objective decisions. And those decisions can affect an employee’s sense of belonging at an organization. Leaders who understand their biases and develop strategies to address them are often uniquely positioned to break down barriers and drive an inclusive workplace environment.

Design Tip: Applying This to Your Program

Include training modules that prepare employees to work with new perspectives in unfamiliar situations. Surfacing preconceived biases about the nonprofit sector and inviting employees to question those notions will prepare them to successfully navigate projects that challenge their pre-existing bias.

Download Pro Bono + Inclusive Leadership to learn more about the benefits of pro bono service programs.