In the changing work landscape, businesses are challenged and facing a severe talent crunch. Many studies’ reports have highlighted that unique individuals, collaborative teams, and inclusive leaders will have far-reaching impacts and will be the growth drivers in the new way of working.
Diversity and inclusion are solutions, but it takes a lot of work. Organizations will be challenged to build the right culture by addressing unconscious bias in the workplace.
Unconscious or implicit bias refers to the associations that are made between different qualities and social categories such as race, gender, or disability and are judgments that are made without conscious awareness. These automatic preferences or stereotypes majorly contribute to a lack of workplace diversity.
Every time we decide, our background, life experiences, and cultural values impact our reasoning. Over time, the human brain has developed an ability to use these experiences to create shortcuts and enable us to navigate the incredible amount of information we’re exposed to daily. This cognitive function can be beneficial but often leads to snap decisions, which, in many cases, can be wrong or poorly informed. In the workplace, this can hurt recruitment decisions, slow employee development, impair diversity, and drive up attrition.
The Impact of Unconscious Bias in the Work Place
Although widely recognized that diversity of thought and innovation are essential to secure bottom-line results and workplace productivity, our unconscious preferences for people like us continue to challenge our ability to create these conditions severely.
Biases can sneak into every encounter, from the language used in job specifications and decisions on who to hire or promote to managers overlooking the poor performance of those they know and like.
Overcoming Unconscious Bias and Promoting Diversity
Implicit biases can be hard to address because they are unconscious and may be hard to recognize and accept. However, promoting a culture of respect for difference encourages the expression of diverse ideas, leading to greater creativity and innovation. This is important in the workplace and how businesses respond to customer needs and ultimately strengthen their business brand.
To eliminate unconscious bias in the workplace, consider the following;
- Educate employees on the types of unconscious bias and negative consequences that can arise from allowing such behavior to become normalized.
- Monitor each other for unconscious bias and question comments or remarks on cultural or gender stereotypes.
- Reconsider the rationale behind an initial decision to establish if all facts were considered or if biases have crept in.
- Deliberately slow down decision-making to reduce the likelihood of making a snap decision.
- Invest in setting up Diversity and Inclusion committee to build and maintain processes and enforce cultural behaviors that align with the company’s diversity goals.
In the workplace, this starts with awareness and becoming mindful of unconscious bias. Still, it is essential for those with decision-making power on hiring, promotions, and business best practice. Policy, processes, and frameworks must also underpin individual attention and ownership to promote workplace diversity.
Head HR, BigFm