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Are you Biased



Are You Biased?

Do your job ads insist on “native English speakers”, “attractive females”, and what you have? Is it about the job and qualifications, or are you biased? How is that bad for business? And since being responsible starts at home, how responsible are you towards your employees, and what message do your HR policies send out to the community, asks Hanan Nagi – coach, speaker, founder and CEO of HNI Training & Coaching.

Looking for a (insert nationality), good-looking female, age below 25 years, for the post of sales executive.

Ever seen such an ad like that before? How do you feel about it? Maybe you have published something similar when you had a vacancy and believed you knew exactly what type of person would fit the job profile. But the question is: Is this really good for your business? While such an ad would be illegal in most western countries, it is acceptable in the Middle East as well as many other regions.

Please allow me to wear my “HR hat” for a minute and tell you a little more about this. There is a long-standing debate about whether advertising such specific criteria (where you are legally able to) is a good idea or not. Those, in favor, usually justify it through their perception of business requirements – the receptionist needs to be an attractive woman, the IT post needs to be filled by an Indian, the senior manager needs to be a westerner, and so on. Sounds familiar?

It is all about assumptions and stereotyping. Have you ever caught yourself generalizing that “all men are like that”, “all women are bad drivers”, and other such blanket statements? If yes, you are not alone. Most people stereotype based on direct and indirect learning.

Direct learning is the outcome of one of your own experiences. For example if someone visits a new country and gets robbed right at the airport, they might generalize and call everyone in that country “a thief”. Is that true? Of course not, but because of the strong emotional reaction (anger and frustration) that this visitor had, their generalized reaction was formed.

Indirect learning is more powerful and dangerous because it is deeply rooted within us. It is what we learn from observing others – especially when we are children and more impressionable – or from friends, family, colleagues, the media, and so on.

Why is it bad for Business?

You might be stereotyping a certain criteria such as age,race or colour, gender. Firstly, age; “After a certain age, people are not productive.” Really? Look back or even around you today and see how many great leaders, entrepreneurs and scientists have been productive until they were very old. Secondly, race and colour; do I need to remind you who the current President of the United States is? Thirdly, gender, Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, who is considered one of the most influential Arab leaders today.

So what is the problem? The problem is that you are advertising for a person, not a job, and that person – that person who is perfect for the job (in your view anyway) – is shaped and specified by these unconscious biases.

Why should you overcome that? Because your business needs diversity in a diverse marketplace, and you might lose out on much-needed skills simply because you look for them in a certain package. It is also because this is the day and age of blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and consumers who are exerting their choices and opinions. Word will get out to your customers and stakeholders and the resulting bad PR could affect your sales, or even land you in a legal mess if you operate in countries with strict laws against discrimination.

Getting it right 
So how can you overcome your prejudices? How can you stop being unconsciously biased and get rid of what we call the “halo effect” (hiring people who we believe will do the job perfectly, according to our own assumptions)?

  1. Bring it to the conscious mind:
    Be aware of your unconscious bias and where it comes from. Remember that we did not choose our own race, gender, religion or nationality – and that the opinions you hold are not always yours; they could easily be someone else’s that you have observed, internalized, and now you consider them as your own.
  2. Pause and correct
    When you become aware of these biases in your conscious mind and catch yourself stereotyping, stop! Remind yourself that by doing that you are giving your personal power away to old beliefs, which are most probably not really yours.
  3. Question assumptions by taking the opposite point of view
    When you or someone else makes an assumption, immediately think of the opposite point of view and ask yourself whether that would be an acceptable, or perhaps an even better choice. So when you catch yourself saying “native speakers are preferred”, ask “do I really think that in this day and age of changing global economic power-centers, non-native speakers are disadvantaged or less qualified?”

Now that you can catch and stop these biases and be more objective, there are a few things you need to do to improve the quality and caliber of the people you hire:

  1. Advertise for a job, not a person
    After you have carefully analyzed the job you are hiring for, create a job specification. List the essential qualifications, skills, competencies, expertise, knowledge and experience that the person doing this job needs to have and invite applications from anyone who meets these criteria.

Remember; keep the essential criteria to the absolute minimum, otherwise, you might disqualify good people because your essential criteria were too high. For example, if you are hiring an office manager, and in the essential educational qualification required you list: “college graduate”, then you might be missing out on great candidates with great experience, who hold a diploma in management instead of a BA.

  1. Be open-minded about the applicants
    If the applicant meets the essential job specification then you should look at your desired criteria which is: what additional skills or talents would I like to have within my team?

Again, you are looking for the best fit to the job vacancy you have, based on skills and experience, not based on that person’s passport details. Interview with an open mind and see how those potential candidates will fit into the culture of the company, interact with their new colleagues, and how can they add value and promote diversity in your workplace.

  1. Create a genuinely open work culture
    Deal with prejudices amongst employees and nip them in the bud. This is more effective through measures like culture appreciation sessions, education and awareness. Develop talent – across the board. Hire managers who share your vision and spread the message down the line. Provide career advancement opportunities that take into account different needs, while reinforcing that what matters is accountability despite the flexibility.

Happy hiring!


Hanan Nagi is an International Trainer, Executive Coach, Personal Development Expert, Writer and inspirational Speaker. She is the producer and presenter of the first coaching and human development TV show, ‘Develop your life’, on DMTV. With more than 16 years of corporate experience in the corporate world in various industries, she has been helping organisations achieve their goals through their people, using training and coaching programmes. She has been recognised for her contribution to excellence and achievement in the people’s field by H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and has won the Dubai Government Excellence Award.

About HNI Training & Coaching

HNI Training and Coaching as a Dubai training center, is an innovator and leader in human capital development, providing world-class experiential corporate training solutions and services in English and Arabic to organisations in the MENA region. HNI Training and Coaching is amongst the leading training institutes in Dubai that currently offers training courses in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha in 16 different categories.

A wide array of soft-skills development training courses cater to professionals from all organizational levels. We are the only training institute that does not provide, nor support, the typical mundane class-room training delivery. Our training courses help participants to gain hands-on skills during the sessions, ensuring that knowledge is truly gained and retained. Our experiential and practical corporate training solutions have impacted more than 100 top companies so far, and the number is increasing by the day. Whether you are looking for a training center in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Oman, Saudi Arabia or anywhere else in the MENA region, we can bring our training center to you. Our qualified and experienced team of Master Trainers travels across the region to bring training courses to your doorstep. All you have to do is go through our corporate training courses and contact us on for further information.

By: Hanan Nagi

Founder & CEO

HNI Training & Coaching


Edited by: Hadeer Salah Aldeen

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Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021 – where balance, resilience and authenticity break the Mental Health Stigma



Written by: Cinzia Nitti

Globally, 2020 has been a year like no other. Coronavirus pandemic caused a massive business disruption; transformation has been key in supporting employees and catalyzing workplace changes. There was a rush to adapt and reinvent Business Models. Organizations had to rethink and reconsider how they deliver services and strengthen their Organizations through a forward-thinking Digital strategy. To be more agile and responsive in such uncertain times, we need to respond to challenges and adapt quickly to new scenarios by moving from rigid hierarchies to leaner and more flexible structures.

But what about Mental Health at Work, and why is it essential?

What’s the Office of the Future?

Within the Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021, HR Leaders tried to normalize the conversation about Mental Health by putting the topic first, enabling self-care and professional support, raising awareness, and building knowledge around its related issues. Nowadays, personal and work life are more intertwined than ever, so it becomes vital to create balance: the more employees feel free to talk about Mental Health, the more they can prevent struggle and breakout at the Workplace. HR leaders play a crucial role in making an IMPACT by pushing new solutions, promoting work-life balance, redesign workloads, and supporting their Teams.

In this general frame, Irada Aghamaliyeva (MENA Diversity, Inclusiveness & Wellbeing Leader at EY) affirmed: “Workplaces that are inclusive foster enhanced employee wellbeing; employees with high levels of wellbeing are more inclusive”. How can Organizations increase employees’ resilience and embed sustainable Leadership behaviors in the post-covid reality?

Dr. Irada Aghamaliyeva introduced the Mindfulness practice in the Workplace and highlighted its benefits on a large scale: improved wellbeing and resilience on a physical level; positive emotions, self-regulation, empathy and awareness of social dynamics; learning and innovation thanks to the implementation of flexible thinking, intuition and problem-solving processes. So breaking the stigma is possible, starting from personal wellbeing to sustain positive energy and fuel resilience.

About the Power of Empathetic and Authentic Leadership, Dr. Rima Ghose Chowdhury (EVP & Chief Human Resources Officers at Datamatics Global Services) stresses the importance of Leadership roles today. The virtual environment employees are working in, makes them more vulnerable due to a lack of balance between emotional and authenticity traits. Authenticity is the primary factor in effective leadership, regardless of the leadership style. Putting employees first as a strategic priority and hearing their voices to guide strategy; embracing agility to work more effectively in tumultuous time; including a multigenerational work-force: these are the key concepts within Dr. Rima’s motto “Empowering is to enable”. Through motivation and filling emotional support needs, the Empowering Teams Process leads to employees’ safety, esteem, and self-actualization. 

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. To know more about the FOW Future of Work Insights platform around the world, click here:

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The Wellbeing @ Work virtual Summit Middle East returns for its 5th annual event on 22-24 February 2021



The summit provides an innovative and experiential virtual learning opportunity for our audience of CEOs, benefit and reward business leaders and senior HR professionals. The information and knowledge gained from attending this event allow the opportunity to make strategic wellbeing and mental health decisions within an organization, supporting our mission to create more flourishing and thriving workplaces. Never before has the mental health and wellbeing of your employees been so important. The Wellbeing @ Work Summit includes keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and fireside chats alongside unrivaled networking with leaders across the Middle East using our AI-enabled matchmaking platform. This is far more than a webinar! An engaging 3-day event providing you invaluable insight and tools to create thriving workplaces.

Key Reasons to Attend:

  • An engaging AI-enabled matchmaking platform to make invaluable connections & host virtual meetings up to 2 weeks before the three-day festival
  • Learn how multinational organizations are creating workplaces where employees thrive in the new world
  • Campfire panel discussions informing workplace change & mental health solutions
  • Middle East-based employer case studies providing the secrets to employee wellbeing success
  • International experts bringing best-practice from across the globe
  • Invaluable networking with business leaders from across the Middle East

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. The design and implementation of a holistic wellbeing and mental health programme that delivers healthy outcomes and a more productive organization is paramount right now. 

In addition, the results of the extensive Middle East region-wide survey on wellbeing and mental fitness in organizations across the region made in partnership with Cognomie will be presented during the event.

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DECODING FUTURE HR: Global 24 hour virtual event | 19 and 20 January 2021



DECODING FUTURE HR: Today’s challenges are tomorrow’s trends and opportunities

Global 24 hour virtual event | 19 and 20 January 2021

The world in 2020 has changed to a ‘new normality’ but what’s that ‘new normality’ everybody talks about? Is it here to stay? How is it affecting us in our daily lives in the different versions of ourselves? As a customer, an entrepreneur, a parent, a friend…a worker…

Our job is a key part of our lives and we are indeed living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. Automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks and jobs, and changing the skills that organisations are looking for in their people. These momentous changes raise huge organisational, talent and other HR challenges. It has become clear that few organisations are likely to revert to pre-pandemic practices even after a vaccine is found.

Decoding Future HR 2021 is bringing you the ideology of how today’s challenges are becoming tomorrow’s trends and opportunities resulting in HR excellence.

Why you should attend:

  • Learn about the trends and best practices shaping future HR
  • Get valuable insights from expert speakers
  • Share ideas and research to help your organisation reach its goals
  • Understand what do employees want in ‘New Normal’
  • Develop new vision for HRBP and Centre of Expertise
  • Identify, integrate and understand stakeholders to create an intentional employee experience
  • Approaches and elements to leadership development.

Some of our confirmed speakers:

  • Tshepo Yvonne Mosadi , Human Resources Director, The HEINEKEN Company
  • Sarah Tabet, Global HR Director/ D&I Leader | Author for “Inclusion Starts with U”, Schneider Electric
  • Wadah Al Turki, Country Talent Manager KSA and Bahrain, IKEA
  • Lesha Chakraborti, Head of HR – EMEA, Travelex
  • Shaban Butt, Director HR & Administration, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Sajjad Parmar, Head of Rewards – APAC, eBay
  • Katey Howard, VP, Talent Management AMESA, Pepsico
  • Chen Fong Tuan, HR & General Affairs Director, Samsung Electronics
  • Prerna Ajmera, Senior Director, HR Experiences and Solutions, Microsoft
  • Václav Koranda, Vice President Human Resources / Member of the Board of Directors, T-System
  • Amy MacGregor, VP Employee Experience, Global HR, Manulife
  • Adwait Kashalkar, People Analytics and Programme Management Leader, APAC, Mastercard

Click here to view all speakers:

At Wisdom we remain positive that ‘normality’ will soon return and that we will be able to physically meet together once again as speakers, delegates and sponsors at our beautiful venues around the world. But meanwhile, life continues and we need to keep in touch and learn from each other. This 24-hour virtual event will be of great benefit and value to your businesses and its continued development during these challenging times. While this virtual event comes at a lesser cost, it provides for now a wider reach into an international audience, with flexibility of access to content as well as allowing you to have the same opportunity as at a face-to-face session for one-to-one business meetings. We look forward to welcoming you in January.

Date and time: 19-20 January 2021Where: Virtual engaging platform
  Further information and bookings:        Contact:   #WSDM_BI
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