Countering Implicit Bias in the Workplace to Promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Studies have shown that greater diversity leads to greater productivity and output. But greater diversity in the workplace starts from the top, with leadership initiatives to create and promote an inclusive office culture. During the COVID pandemic, it’s natural that companies are looking for ways to change and improve so that they will come through this stronger and better than before. This makes now the perfect time to map out new initiatives surrounding diversity and inclusion.
Even though diverse work environments improve company performance, many businesses have a hard time implementing strategies to reach their DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) goals. David Pedulla, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, researched workplace diversity and organized a report into what strategies work.
Countering Implicit Bias
Implicit bias in the workplace is important to counter and combat. It’s defined as beliefs and attitudes people hold towards different social groups, whether it be based on race, gender, religion, or some other factor. These biases can lead to direct discriminatory behaviors that affect these groups disproportionately.
Fortunately, Pedulla found that these attitudes can improve over the long-term if cultural changes are implemented. However, this only holds for biases against race, skin tone, and gender. Biases against age, disability, and body weight were shown to increase over time even when proactive measures were taken.
Actions to Take
So, if you can reduce implicit bias around certain groups, how do you accomplish that? Some of the following tactics have proven successful.
- Practicing Mindfulness. The first step to overcoming your preconceived notions of others is to acknowledge them and question them. Managers can encourage this in their employees by teaching about mindfulness and fostering discussions around biases.
- Take Time to Consider Other Points of View. Our beliefs come from our personal experiences. Taking the time to consider another’s perspective is essential to reshaping these beliefs. Training your employees to consider things from other points of view will not only improve your company’s culture but could improve their performance as well.
- Slow Down. Encourage your employees to pause and think through their interactions with others. This may help ensure nothing biased or discriminatory is said or done and that they’re more cognizant of the impact of their actions.
- Rethink Your Company’s Messaging. Saying things like “we don’t see color” doesn’t promote inclusion in the workplace. Real inclusion comes through acknowledging differences in perspective and background. Make sure what your company’s internal and external messaging are saying what you want them to.
These changes should be implemented across the board, but the extra focus should go to your recruiting team. It’s easy for implicit bias to sneak into hiring decisions, so it’s important to try to counter this before it happens. Working with hiring managers and your executive team on these issues is essential. Even consider bringing in outside experts to help train your team on DEI practices to ensure proper understanding.
Now is not the time for companies to be complacent regarding their DEI strategies. Working to rid your company of implicit bias and creating fair recruitment and promotion processes is essential to company performance. It will help you achieve greater heights as a business, improving your employees’ work performance, and teamwork along the way.
- “Eight tactics to identify and reduce your implicit biases.” AAFP, 16 August 2019.
- Estrada, Sheryl. “How to apply ‘evidence-based ideas’ to D&I.” HR Dive, 27 May 2020.
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