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Tackling The Scourge Of Bias In Your Company

Giant managerial hand pointing at a man, standing in a line of employees, EPS 8 vector illustration

A source of bad energy and disharmony in the workplace biases. When we make business decisions from a place of bias, we also risk making the wrong decision. So how do we mitigate bias in the workplace?

1. Recognize your bias.

First of all, it’s important to acknowledge that bias exists. For example, if you’re trying to decide who really deserves a raise and you find your mind drifting toward which employee needs it more than the others (rather than looking at merit), it’s important you can stop, realize you’re being influenced by a bias instead of logic, and redirect.

If you’re trying to decide who’s most qualified for a big promotion, stick to facts, figures and past proven performance. Don’t let yourself be swayed by who would fit in best with the management group or who would most likely fit with the status quo. Ask a colleague to block out names and identifying information on applications for promotion. If you’re looking strictly at facts, it’s difficult for bias to creep into the equation. Another option is to have someone in a lateral position check your thought process.

2. Be committed to mitigating bias in your organization.

In her book Diversity Beyond Lip Service: A Coaching Guide for Challenging Bias, author La’Wana Harris said, “Having people who think, act, and perform differently from you helps you grow and expand your ability to contribute more broadly across your organization. Your ideas can become more refined and relevant when the views of others — especially opposing views — are there to challenge your thinking.”

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This is why I’ve also found it’s important to not just give lip service to bias mitigation. In my career, I’ve heard many CEOs and human resources professionals discuss diversity and inclusion in the workplace with no apparent conviction. It’s as if they were all issued the same script and instructed to read it with no passion at all.

However, if you take the time to understand the thought processes of people who are different from you, it can bring you to an understanding of what and how they think. Once you can see an issue from multiple viewpoints, it drives you to feel differently about the value of bias mitigation. When you can actually feel and understand an issue from alternate perspectives, it will help generate the passion that can compel change.

3. Speak up when you see others display biased behaviours.

Then there’s the issue of bad behaviour in the workplace threatening to tear down what diversity and inclusion your company does possess. It’s often difficult to take a stand on inappropriate behaviours, but it’s necessary. Employees who experience these admittedly uncomfortable situations must accept their responsibility to respectfully quash divisive actions, especially if they are in a management position. If the unacceptable behaviour is not addressed, it implies that somehow it is acceptable.

It does take courage to be the one who doesn’t agree with a questionable comment or joke, especially when you’re the only one in the group who seemingly objects. But remember that others in the crowd might see the faults in it, too; they just don’t want to be seen as the one who rocks the boat.

In her article for the Harvard Business Review, “How to Speak Up if You See Bias at Work,” Amber Lee Williams pointed out, “The bottom line is that patterns of unchecked biased and offensive behaviour in the workplace have the potential to erode full employee participation and take a toll on organizational effectiveness.”

Although everyone in the organization should feel empowered and encouraged to uphold the dignified vision of workplace equality, if the frontline people don’t see it reflected in the behaviour of those in the C-suite, the initiative will never realize its full potential.

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Written by nigeriahow

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