Personal Development And Growth In The Metaverse

Your organization may not yet be active in the virtual workspaces of the metaverse, but for most it is only a matter of time. What’s more, executives are coming around to the idea; according to one survey, 78% of business professionals say they would readily participate in the immersive work experiences offered by the metaverse, with as many as 87% saying they would be comfortable conducting HR meetings in a virtual space.

As organizations begin to use metaverse platforms and virtual reality (VR) meeting spaces, it is important for them to consider the implications for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and to set expectations among users about how they should behave in these new arenas. If they fail to acknowledge the responsibility that comes with this opportunity, the creators of these virtual spaces could find themselves ‘baking in’ problems that will be hard to unwind. However, if they define these spaces responsibly, businesses could find the metaverse to be a powerful lever for creating truly inclusive organizations.

How can the metaverse support DE&I?

There are three main ways in which the metaverse can support DE&I.

1. Mitigating biases in recruitment

Metaverse technology can help eliminate some biases in how people interrelate by removing the visual cues that people use unconsciously to stereotype and categorize people. This could be particularly valuable in recruitment. Businesses have invested substantial amounts in training employees to recognize and avoid those biases, yet study after study indicates that hiring managers retain unconscious biases, regardless of retraining. In the metaverse, this can be mitigated by stripping away some of the information that perpetuates such biases.

Technology can also help improve recruitment inclusivity by removing certain barriers that would dissuade certain people from applying in the first place. For example, metaverse technology could help people with some physical disabilities in terms of access, or those who suffer social anxieties around in-person contact, such as neurodiverse individuals, by allowing them to expose themselves as much or as little as they wish.

2. Employees can actively shape their virtual identity

The metaverse gives people the opportunity to recreate themselves and even customize their identity – to ‘try on’ and present distinct versions of themselves that may be difficult to access in the physical world (for example, in relation to gender or skin color.) The metaverse can allow people opportunities to represent themselves in a way that they feel is more ‘accurate,’ and more closely aligned with their sense of self.

CEOs may reflect that this runs contrary to the popular notion that employees should be ‘authentic’ and bring their ‘whole selves’ to work. In reality, this should not cause too great a concern because creating a different virtual identity is not an easy task. In addition, early studies in this field suggest a high level of congruence between people’s actual selves and how they present their avatars in the metaverse. People still conform to certain contextual expectations and norms – dressing professionally, for instance. Their gender identity, color, and hair type typically remain consistent. However, there may be a slight self-enhancement bias – smoothing out one’s skin, changing one’s age, or even taking on different personality traits.

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