Happy May! May we talk about bias?

I recently led a workshop on Emotional Intelligence (EQ) based off the book by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.

If you have never taken their EQ assessment let me explain.

The basic premise is that, like a personality or IQ, everyone has EQ as well. And your EQ is measured based on your competency in 4 areas:

  • self-awareness
  • self-management
  • social awareness
  • relationship management

And everything starts with self-awareness. No surprise there.

In this workshop I decided to kick things off with and exercise about self-awareness through the lens of unconscious bias.

As I like to say, “It’s called unconscious for a reason”.

And, though the team failed miserably in the exercise (as expected), they had their own self-awareness around how they operate daily from a place of bias.  This was the point-you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.

This month we dig into bias. This is a broad and deep topic on one hand and can seem quite daunting. Yet, by having a clear intention to take on bias in your organization, you can make positive impacts quickly.

We will give you 3 tips to get things started.

In our ICYMI section (just in case you missed it!) we give you more info on what other companies are doing to recognize bias and a cool article on using Artificial Intelligence to combat bias.

This will not be the last time we talk about this important topic because…well…bias is one of the main derailers to creating and inclusive work culture for all, but we hope this is a great start to raising awareness.

All the best!

CEO | Founder of InspiHER Tech, a Laso Company

 

 

What is Unconscious Bias & What Can You Do About It?

Are you human? Then you have unconscious bias. Everyone does. So it invades the workplace more than we realize.

Before we go on, what is unconscious bias?

Unconscious bias is like muscle memory. Our minds make automatic associations that often turn into social stereotypes about certain groups of people. It happens so fast, and is so buried in our subconscious, we’re not even aware when it’s present.

“You can make prejudiced decisions while still believing prejudice is wrong,” says Jon-Mark Sabel of HireVue.

This means unconscious bias can be more dominant in the workplace than conscious, overt prejudice.

What are the effects?

Unconscious bias can skew talent and performance reviews and negatively affect hiring, development and promotion. It silently shapes an organization’s culture without our awareness, creating what Laura Berger, writing in Forbes, calls “a disconnected culture.”

Valerie Martinelli, from Talent Culture, notes some effects of unconscious bias on women in the workplace. “Male and female managers may critique women more harshly for being aggressive . . . expect women to be team-oriented and men to be independent. . . . Hidden biases such as these can cumulatively damage a women’s career over time.”

How can we fix it?

“Fix?” Not so much, but unconscious bias can be controlled, minimized, and overcome.

  • First, acknowledge that everyone in your organization has unconscious bias. Try to label the most common forms, such as the halo effect (seeing only the good about someone you personally like) or perception bias (stereotypes about groups that block objective judgments about individuals).

  • Second, create awareness within your organization about the reality of unconscious bias and its effects. Deploy internal communications, create a simple survey, and offer voluntary awareness training. As more people become aware of how hidden yet common unconscious bias is, you’ll start a grass-roots company-wide conversation about how to combat it.
  • Third, build formal structures to reduce the opportunity for unconscious bias to take root. Vet procedures for recruiting, cross-training, mentoring and promotions. Do they address that unconscious bias exists and include specific steps to reduce its influence? For example, are job descriptions inclusive? The interview process? “Structures,” says Cynthia Hardy, “slow the brain down . . . and allow for more deliberative action for activities like resume screening and interviews.”

This is hard work, yet greater innovation, higher employee engagement, lower turnover and higher profits make it worth the effort.

 

Schedule a Time to Talk

 

 

 

Labeling unconscious bias is the first step in fighting back. Here are 7 types seen in the workplace. {Link}

Do girls really suck at math? How to recognize unconscious gender bias. {Link}

4 tech startups using AI to confront gender bias. {Link}

5 concrete steps to help avoid gender bias in the workplace. {Link}

Study shows how objective criteria are key to evaluating an employee’s potential. {Link}

 

 

“The giant computer that is our unconscious silently crunches all the data it can from the experiences we’ve had, the people we’ve met, the lessons we’ve learned, the books we’ve read, the movies we’ve seen, and so on, and it forms an opinion.”

Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

 

 

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