Unconscious Bias: What We Learned from Starbucks

On April 12, 2018, two young African American men were waiting at a Pennsylvania Starbucks for a meeting to begin when the Starbucks store manager requested police to remove them because they did not order anything. The two men were arrested and removed from the location in handcuffs. After a video of the incident went viral, Starbucks received nationwide backlash. The reaction to the incident prompted the entire franchise to close its 8,000 doors across the United States for an Anti-Bias Training and transform its ethos. Seeking advice and recommendations from various experts, Starbucks aimed to revitalize its third core value: the “third place” – a place of community and belonging.

Unconscious bias is processing information based on unconscious associations or feelings.  While unconscious bias is not a new or revolutionizing topic in the workplace, 2020 is going to place an emphasis on managers and leaders to incite change to organizational culture towards diversity and inclusivity. The focus will likely lean on the impact of affinity and fender biases in the workplace.

An amalgamation of different perspectives and experiences representative of the communities that organizations serve is the core purpose of diversity in the workplace. Understanding how bias influences workplace decisions can assist business leaders in addressing and reducing bias.

Addressing Bias

The first step in addressing bias is identifying it. There are different types of bias that can appear in the workplace, such as affinity bias (the unconscious tendency to connect with others similar to oneself) and unconscious bias (social stereotypes of groups of people without conscious awareness). Providing education and training on such biases can help individuals recognize their own biases, take appropriate steps to remove bias, and continue understanding the way bias is formed and continued.

Some ways to help reduce bias is implementing HR technology and best practices. For example, investing in an artificial intelligence (AI) program can help remove unconscious bias. However, special training should be provided for those maintaining the AI program(s) as human bias can be incorporated into the AI programs. Another HR strategy and best practice is establishing interview standardization. Oftentimes interview questions can be subject to scrutiny, such as questions that may involve gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or other protected classes under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations.

Preparing for a Multigenerational Workforce

There are five or more generations in the workforce varying from Baby Boomers to Generation Z. Each generation presents different advantages and disadvantages. For example, Baby Boomers are likely to have more work experience in their respective industries, whereas Generation Z may bring innovative technological strategies. It is important for businesses to prepare for the multigenerational workforce and the demands of such generations. Reskilling or upskilling, employee wellness, flexible work arrangements, new and upgrading technology and software, and developing a well-rounded corporate culture are some of the hot topics in multigenerational workforces.

Welcoming Differences

From gender identity and expression to political thought, celebrating differences in culture and backgrounds can assist in promoting diverse and inclusive workplaces. As social change movements and events continue to rise, it is imperative for businesses to be prepared to respond. Updating employee handbooks and company policies and procedures regarding harassment and discrimination, code of conduct, and code of ethics to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion should be a priority. Incorporating and/or investing in education and training can offer best practices for making the workplace more inclusive and socially sensitive.

Other topics, such as compensation reporting, board representation, harassment and discrimination analysis, promotions, and other performance management practices are equity-based issues that demand higher transparency in the workplace.

Robin Paggi, Training Coordinator at Worklogic HR – a VensureHR partner, hosted an “Unconscious Bias Training: What We Learned from Starbucks” webinar discussing the definition of unconscious bias, lessons learned from Starbucks, updating training, policies, and procedures, and building a diverse workforce. For more information or questions you may have regarding bias, training, and/or resources related to implementing and improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, please contact VensureHR. Our HR representatives possess industry-leading best practices, resources, and HR services to ensure your business is efficiently and effectively prepared for any social issue that may arise in the workplace.


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Cyber Protection, Prevention, and Liability Tips for Businesses

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has presented many hurdles for businesses, such as financial hardships, personal trials, and cyber vulnerabilities. Like most crises, cyber criminals prey on the vulnerable populations. For example, retail and manufacturing industries have taken the biggest hit likely because they remained open and hiring so they provided more opportunity for cyber criminals to target. Whereas, other industries saw countless layoffs and furloughs or closed their doors completely lessening the chances for a cyber-attack. Cyber crime detection increased one-third when COVID-19 emerged.

Here are some tips to improve cyber protection, prevention, and liability.

Protecting Your Business Meetings. As many businesses transitioned to remote workplaces, the reliance on virtual business meetings became more prominent. Zoom, a popular videoconferencing provider, endured an unfavorable number of meeting hacks. To protect your business meetings, here are a few tips:

  • Disable guests from screensharing capabilities, which can deter guests from controlling the meeting or presenting inappropriate things.
  • Require the meeting host to be present prevents others from starting the meeting.
  • Do not share your personal meeting ID and use a unique meeting ID for each meeting.
  • Utilize passwords for each meeting so only those with the password may enter the meeting.
  • Create a waiting room, where guests must wait until a meeting starts and the host must manually admit them to the meeting.

Invest in Cyber Security Awareness Training.
There are many companies and software programs that offer cybersecurity awareness training. These trainings can cover topics such as phishing emails, malware, safe internet habits, encrypting sensitive data, addressing data breaches, and adequate passwords. Whether you find a comprehensive cybersecurity awareness training or hone in on particular trainings most relevant to your industry or business, it is worthwhile to make the investment in protecting both your business and your clients from potential cyber-attacks.

Develop Remote Work Policies and Procedures. As employees return to work or remain in remote work environments, implementing remote work policies and procedures is critical to ensuring business compliance in all facets of business operations. Some considerations include work hours, expectations during work hours, workers’ compensation policies and procedures, and cybersecurity protocols. For employees with work computers supplied by the employer, the employer should ensure that proper cybersecurity policies are communicated and enforced. For example, reminding employees that work computers are strictly to be used for work-related purposes (i.e., not surfing the web, working on personal projects, etc.). Other policies could include required cybersecurity awareness training and communications regarding tips for identifying cyber threats.

Cyber liability and attacks are not going to dissipate on their own. It takes diligence and continuous training of employees and upgrade and maintenance on technology to truly combat cyber crimes. VensureHR is partnered with Core ID Services, a cyber liability insurance and cyber protection provider that offers individual, family, and business cyber detection and protection services. Partnering with VensureHR offers you access to our full suite of competitive, comprehensive benefits that can improve your employee relations. Contact VensureHR today to see how you can take control of your business cybersecurity.


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Navigating the Remote Workplace

A young female professional video conferencing with her team while working remotely

As employees return to work, there are some best practices in place for both in-office and remote workplaces. Though not all industries or businesses are able to provide remote work options, those that are should consider shifting all available positions capable of working remote to work from home. 83% of the working population believe that a remote work opportunity would make them feel happier at their job.[1] A remote workplace offers great benefits to both employees and employers, such as:

  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Lower costs
  • Improved health
  • Increased productivity
  • Higher employee morale and retention


Per the White House recommendation, businesses should re-open in phases. These phases may differ by state or local governments but should essentially follow a similar pattern.

Phase 1: This primary phase suggests only essential workers should be onsite. Minimizing travel, providing accommodations for vulnerable populations, and workplace safety policies and procedures should be maintained.

Phase 2: The second phase still encourages the practices of Phase 1, but permits non-essential employees to begin returning to the office.

Phase 3: Companies may resume standard business operations. However, continuing implementation of CDC recommendations is highly recommended (i.e., physical distancing, sanitation, limiting travel, etc.).

One similarity between all three phrases is that remote work is encouraged. Managing remote teams can pose strains on productivity, health, and engagement. To promote a healthy, engaged, and compliant remote workforce, here are some tips to follow:

Developing effective communications. Utilize department and company communications to ensure remote employees receive proper notices of policies and procedures, any legal changes, and companywide announcements and information. Applications like Microsoft Teams, Wrike, and Constant Contact can assist you with seamless communications and project management.

Prioritizing health. Working remote can present health risks, so it is important for employers to promote health as a priority. Encouraging team activities, rest breaks, and mental health awareness and resources are great ways to implement healthy habits in the remote workplace.

Ensuring staffing needs are met. Aligning staffing needs with production levels can help alleviate any stressors your employees may be facing. It’s important to note that in these trying times, levels of stress may be elevated beyond normal and employees should be accommodated appropriately for the influx or slow of production demands.

Whether you’re looking for developing or modifying remote work policies and procedures or improving remote work environments, VensureHR’s human resource experts can lend you the support and resources you seek. Please contact VensureHR to learn about our customized HR solutions to streamline your business efficiencies.


[1] 40 Remote Work Stats to Know in 2020

Breaking Down Barriers Between Departments

Cross departmental collaboration between young professionals

Oftentimes department responsibilities across companies overlap at some point. However, not all departments within an organization function effectively and breaking down the barriers between department can improve collaborative efforts, align the business vision, strengthen company communications, or improve trust and accountability of both departments and individuals within departments. Here are some ways to address the departmental divide within your company.

Removing Silos

The first step to breaking the barriers between departments is breaking removing silos – the physical dividers that separate individuals and departments. Removing silos can mean something different across businesses, such as removing cubicles, creating spacious common areas and/or implementing games or activities that encourage interactions between individuals in the area (i.e., a pool table, video games, ping pong, etc.), or combining and/or renaming departments for more inclusive or broad designations.

Establishing Consistent Communication

Communication has many facets in a corporate environment. From emails and newsletters to social media and word of mouth, business communications need to have an established process and voice that can be universally understood by individuals of all departments. For example, the marketing department may use terms that are unfamiliar to the client relations department. Utilizing a common “language” within the company can reduce alienating departments and improve communication between departments. Another great approach to establishing communication is having employees switch roles to understand the processes and pain points other departments face, as well as an opportunity to provide feedback for improving such processes. For example, someone in marketing might be able to develop a new process that streamlines the communications department.

Aligning Company Vision and Goals

No company ever wants an “It’s not my job” mentality. To combat such perspective, aligning company vision and goals with a strategy to obtain them is critical to evenly distribution of responsibility and avoiding burnout. Motivating employees consists of incentivizing through common interests, individual growth initiatives, mutual goals, and word of affirmation. Instilling such tactics into management encourages feedback, collaboration, and productivity. Having a clear vision, set goals and deadlines, and appropriate strategy to achieve them draws the company a path for success.

Promoting Cross Department Collaboration

The best silo-breaker is promoting cross department collaboration. Implementing the three steps above will improve cross department communication and collaboration. By establishing an aligned vision and goals, through developing consistent communication, and removing silos, departments should flow more cohesively and collaboratively to obtain company goals. Removing silos in the workplace can certainly streamline business efficiencies and build a stronger team.

Not sure where to start? Contact VensureHR for a free HR diagnostic. Our HR representatives can thoroughly evaluate your current processes, discuss pain points, and provide innovative, invaluable HR solutions.



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Addressing Staffing Needs as Businesses Re-Open

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) first impacted the world, some businesses shifted to remote work arrangements, whereas other businesses closed their doors and endured employee layoffs. As stay at home orders are lifted, businesses are re-opening their doors and looking to rehire or recruit new employees.

Evaluate Production Projections for Staffing Needs

For businesses that are in industries like healthcare, restaurant and food services, and grocery stores, estimating staffing needs based on production projections might be part of the normal business procedures. However, accounting for the influx or deceleration of business operations, it is critical for businesses to consider loss of productivity due to COVID-19 and adjust their staffing needs. This could require exploration of alternative staffing, such as temporary, temporary-to-hire, independent contracting, and remote work or flex schedule staffing.

Adjust Workflow to Prioritize Mental Health

Employees, especially those in public-facing positions, may experience more adverse effects from COVID-19. As a result, employers should be prepared for an uptick in mental health issues. Management should prepare leaders for mental health-related issues by providing adequate training and resources. Adjusting workflow for employees struggling with bandwidth, considering staffing needs to assist with such coverage, and ensuring mental health remains priority as businesses navigate through recovery from COVID-19. Leaders should also be encouraged to facilitate team conversations to assist employees in processing emotion and strengthening workforce resilience.

Modifying the Hiring Process

Because physical distancing is still encouraged, the hiring process for many businesses may be impacted. One way to modify the hiring process is to shift to virtual interviews. Virtual interviews, while conducted in remote settings, provide the in-person connection between the candidate and interviewer. This connection can offer an inside look at your company’s culture, as well as a more comprehensive look at a candidate’s personality.

Another alternative to the hiring process could be investing in an outsource company, such as Solvo Global, that can present qualified candidates who are capable and equipped to work remote, as well as save you money on training and the hassle of onboarding.

If you’re looking for alternative outsource staffing solutions, VensureHR is partnered with Solvo Global. Solvo Global employees are university educated, bilingual, and under managerial supervision. Clients who have utilized Solvo Global have saved save thousands of dollars annually. Please contact VensureHR for any staffing needs you may have. Our team of HR experts diligently seek customized HR services for your business needs.


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