When we use this word — and it’s a really powerful and emotive word — we are often associating it with something pretty negative and stark.
A bias against someone, something — often based on unconscious bias, and how we might, unwittingly or willingly, be off the mark in how we treat others, especially those different to us.
I know about a long list of biases of mine and some are towards and some are away from.
- Away from hatred, fascism, racism, bigotry, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, technophobia (even) and divisive nationalism— and this means people and systems.
- Towards inclusive, open-minded, compassionate, kind, caring, generous, dedicated, autonomous, creative, sharing and aspirational people and systems.
- Positive about new, inventive, alternative, unorthodox, rule-bending (and breaking) things, smartly constructed theories based on science and artistic interpretation, pacy, exciting and pioneering thinking and doing.
- Committed to fair, equitable, balancing systems and behaviours that help people become who they really are and do what they love, learn from and strive for in making a positive, fulfilling and flourishing life.
- Determined about restorative action for our natural world, ecosystems of life, peaceful and prosperous ways of living in harmony with others and the planet that sustains all of that.
- I’m also biased against the super-rich and biased toward a more socialist, distributive system of wealth and opportunity. And no, I’m not a champagne socialist. My bias toward this is probably because of my working-class, council-house upbringing which I’m proud of and didn’t escape from. I just found a way into knowledge work. I’ve no university degree, I have white male privilege (of course) but I’m not a product of parental privilege except my wonderful Mum and Dad wanted me to have the best chance in life despite being low on income/monetary resources.
- And rather trivially, I have a bias against dirt. I don’t like gardening or anything I get dirty with (hence the knowledge work I guess) but have admiration for anyone (like my Dad) who digs up holes in the road to lay cables that bring power, sanitation, and communication, to my desk-based working world and comfortable home life.
It might sound like it’s virtue-signalling cliches to some. Well, they can call that based on their judgement of me, but I know that inside of me, my very soul even, this is how I am, feel and want to be.
With so many tragic, dangerous and divisive systems and behaviours of late, it might also seem like a reaction to that adversity. And it might very well be. Human beings have that reactive spark sometimes to cause and effect change. Being as self-aware as I can, I’ve sensed these biases of mine for a long time, not just in clusterf*ck situations.
Another of my biases though is towards action.
And it’s this bias that forms into this post. A bias for action.
People in my network will know this: They have an idea, a revelation. They share it with me. It could be a model. A system change. A new product/service adaptation. They are so thrilled they’ve discovered it. And I might burst their bubble a bit as my reaction is one (often) of support, (sometimes) of a critical friend, but always What are you going to do to bring it into being? My bias for action.
So this bias to action in this post is about a recent recognition of mine. On Thursday 30th June 2022 I was named the Number 1 Most Influential Thinker in HR by HR Magazine.
Now already to some there’ll be “Why him? Never heard of him, What’s he ever done?” or “Who cares? HR’s all forms and prevention”. Or whatever.
But it’s not about defending it or my place there; it’s my bias for action that’s been stirred.
So here’s the plan. What am I going to do with this recognition?
Some might say “just do what you’re doing because that’s clearly working to get this recognition”. And that’s a fair point.
To me, this is a privilege I intend not to waste and in fact do more good than I had committed to before.
So, for real this time here’s the plan. What am I going to do with this recognition?
- Reach out to the Number 1 Most Influential HR Practitioner: Sharon Benson. Which I’ve already done, and you know what, Sharon’s as up for this as I am. We’re going to join forces somehow. As the 2 Number 1s, we’re going to combine. In some or all of the following.
- Align the strategy and work of People and Transformational HR Ltd. with activities in support of what Sharon and I are calling HRMI Impact 23. What impact can come from this recognition for others in the HR Profession, businesses and organisations and the systems of HR, People & Culture into 2023? Already underway. The team and I are setting something up in August to revise our 2023 Strategy as an enterprise to align to things linked to this recognition. We also have new things coming out soon which fit this aspect perfectly in progressing the profession and the agenda of good work for all.
- Work with (if they’re up to it and I’m not holding them hostage with this intent) HR Magazine and Hult International Business School — who put on, validate and assemble this list — to support their 2023 vision for this list and help it be even more meaningful, impactful and useful for the profession and the world of work more widely.
- Survey, analyse, write, speak, put on events and maybe even a big conference, that Sharon and I can bring together whoever we can muster and of course, it’ll be something that links entirely to my bias to action. Not a fluff-and-guff, word confetti-fest. Action-oriented, useful, inspiring things people can do NOW to shape the future for the better.
- Work with Economists, Researchers and Analysts who can help us get on top of how we can value people more, remove inequalities, overcome unequal wealth and benefit distribution, improve wellness, and crack the code behind other disparities, all present in the creaking system we are currently in and using.
- Connect with and work with Politicians and Activists to bring together thinking that helps our planet, communities, people and businesses and see what we can do to fan the flames of a more prosperous way to live and work.
3–6 haven’t even started on yet but are already in mind.
As you’ll see, these are moonshots of the bigger order. HRMI Impact 23 won’t deliver an end goal on all these. Unless by some miracle, a compressed revolution happens and we can come in on the coat-tails of it.
BUT we’ll make a start. We’ll flick the first domino towards a cascade of more positive actions that repair, reinvent and recalibrate our systems of life, work and prosperity.
So there’s my bias to action in all its unbridled detail and having just sent a draft of this to Sharon, I have a kindred soul with a similar bias to action. So we’re all GO on this.
And when people say “What good are these awards things?” We’ll be able to point to actions that have as a direct result of recognition and a responsibility to do something good with something that is (undoubtedly) a feel-good.
Feel good. But do good. There’s my bias to action all over that.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes ever from the brilliant Howard Thurman.