Good News Story: How Perry Demolition are Tackling Postcode BiasJuly 15, 2021
Perry Demolition is one of Geelong’s premier demolition businesses, operating across Geelong in the domestic, industrial, and commercial landscapes.
With a team of experienced and professional demolition contractors as well as trained support staff, Perry Demolition thought they’d built the perfect team.
However, when compassion struck Tanya Andrews, Office Manager at Perry Demolition, after hearing Bryan Moore from Northern Futures present at the March 2021 GROW Compact Action Network meeting about the great work they do training and supporting long term unemployed in North Geelong, Tanya reached out to him for more information.
‘We didn’t have a position at the time – I was just interested to hear more about what they do and find ways that our company could contribute in the future, so I reached out and we met,’ said Tanya.
Bryan came out to our depot and explained in more detail their unique offering. Tanya was surprised to hear Bryan explain ‘postcode bias’ – the unconscious (or conscious) perception or judgements that people (from other areas of Geelong) have about those living in Corio and Norlane.
What is an unconscious bias?
Unconscious bias is unconscious or hidden beliefs and attitudes beyond our regular perceptions of ourselves and others. Basically, a belief that we don’t know that we’ve got that makes us see ourselves and others as different.
Unconscious bias affects every area of our lives. Unconsciously, we tend to like people who look like us, think like us, and come from backgrounds similar to ours. Research shows that the beliefs and values gained from family, culture, and a lifetime of experiences heavily influence how we view and evaluate both others and ourselves.
In simpler terms, our beliefs reflect ourselves and our experiences, and sometimes that’s to the detriment of others and their experiences (whether we want that or not!).
Unconscious bias in the workplace
In business, bias can be costly. Bias can contribute to making decisions that aren’t objective and ultimately opportunities for businesses to grow and diversify can be missed.
Unconscious bias has a significant effect on our everyday decision-making abilities in the workplace. These biases affect all business decisions including our interactions with clients and customers.
Unconscious bias can manifest in many ways, but Bryan discussed with Bryce Perry and his team how it affects job seekers in the 3214 postcode.
‘I am shocked to know that this bias exists and that I may have been subjected to this bias in my life without ever knowing it! It’s like an invisible ‘discrimination’ unknowingly having people pass judgement based solely on location and a preconceived view. And to realise that this is even considered a ‘disadvantage’ was a real awakening to me…. it’s remarkable to me to hear this term ‘disadvantage’ being used over something as trivial as a location when there are people in the region who endure extreme disadvantage, that is real and tangible. Unknowing that when they have the courage and strength to overcome these real disadvantages, they will then be subject to this unfair bias,’ said Tanya.
Tanya thought it was incredible that an entire organisation had been created to counteract this bias and assist people living in 3214 to find sustaining and sustainable employment. ‘I’ve been lucky enough to always have employment and that meant my experience superseded the limitation of this postcode bias. But not everyone has had the opportunities I have had.’
How Bryce Perry took action
Perry Demolition joined GROW specifically for the opportunity to make a difference in the community, so they decided to create a part-time role and provide an opportunity for someone experiencing barriers to employment.
They discussed duties that needed to be done after speaking with our Director Bryce Perry about creating a role and their mechanic (who grew up in Norlane) who was excited to take on the challenge of mentoring and training. In collaboration with Bryce and their mechanic, Tanya ‘carved off’ several tasks and created a yard/factory hand role. Bryan then organised interviews a week later.
Jack was hired for the role in May, initially starting one day, before quickly moving up to 2 days per week. Completing his Cert II in Civil Construction at Northern Futures and being mentored by one of Bryce Perry’s staff, this decision has become beneficial for all involved.
‘Jack was surprised to be offered the job and is happy to be working and learning new skills; he’s already part of our team and is a perfect fit for our needs. I would urge other businesses to look at ‘job carving’ and ensure they are remaining open-minded about applicants. Being able to provide an opportunity for Jack was great, what we didn’t expect was the overall boost and enthusiasm to all the other staff as they watch him gain more confidence within himself and the role.’
There is substantial value to be unlocked in a more conscious approach to decision making – by addressing unconscious bias and improving the quality of all decisions, a greater improvement on organisational outcomes can be affected.
A more conscious approach to decision-making also ensures that the characteristics of a person – including whether the person lives in a particular postcode – are seen as dimensions rather than deficits, enabling businesses to be more inclusive and harness a much wider diversity of thinking within their workplace.
GROW G21 is facilitated by Give Where You Live Foundation and is a joint initiative with G21-Geelong Region Alliance, working to create equitable opportunities for employment within our region.