The only way to overcome unconscious bias is to bring these assumptions out into the light and scrutinise them.
Here’s a quick look at some common myths, as outlined in Kristal Kinsela-Christie’s book Supplier Diversity How:
Myth: Indigenous businesses are not capable
False – Most Indigenous businesses provide quality goods or services. Not all businesses are in the same sector or industry, and therefore will demonstrate a broad range of capabilities within their own market.
Myth: Having non-Indigenous staff makes the business less Indigenous
False – Any business should make employment decisions based on the best fit for the business. Indigenous people represent less than three per cent of the total population of Australia, meaning it is very competitive to recruit Indigenous talent. The focus on legitimatising an Indigenous business should be on the ownership, management and control of the business, where a majority (51% or more) sits with Indigenous people.
Myth: Indigenous businesses can't scale up
False – any Indigenous business can scale up if they have the right opportunity to do so. Scaling up might look different, depending on the business, sector and circumstances. Access to capital or a genuine JV could help an Indigenous business scale.
Myth: Indigenous businesses are only small businesses
False – Whilst there a majority of small businesses, there are many medium to large enterprises growing through IPP contracts.
Myth: Indigenous businesses can't manage their cashflow
False – Cashflow is challenging for all businesses, but particularly small business. The challenges experienced by Indigenous businesses are the same as any other business. Working with government and corporate can be challenging, due to a wide variety of different payment terms. For example, a company that takes 30-45 days to pay has the potential to have a major impact on their contractors.
Myth: Indigenous businesses lack business acumen
False – All small businesses face similar challenges delivering on a product or service while being a small entity and having to run the business operations at the same time. There are varying and diverse levels of business acumen depending on the size, type and industry.
Myth: Indigenous businesses only make and sell art
False – We have lawyers, facilities maintenance, construction, consultants, florists, stationary providers and IT companies to name just a few.
Myth: Indigenous businesses will cost you more
False – Indigenous businesses will price their products and services just like any other business. In some instances you might pay more for a higher quality product. But in lots of instances it is actually Indigenous businesses who are pushed to be price competitive and reduce their costs to compete – which can in turn make the pricing unsustainable.
If you would like to talk to IPS about delivering unconscious bias workshops in your business, please don’t hesitate to call Kristal Kinsela-Christie on 0448 647 008.