Updated: Aug 31, 2019
Eliminating Bias in the Workplace
It is a natural process to gravitate to people who look or work like you do. It’s comfortable. It’s safe. You may think that in your leadership role or as an emerging executive that playing it safe and seeking out those who feel familiar to you is innocent and harmless but it’s not! When you only seek to create experiences and opportunities with people at work who share your ethnicity, ideals, or religion etc you are participating in marginalization, discrimination, and such behavior is not just highly unethical it’s breaks multiple labor laws that were created to protect minorities and the disabled and foster a safe and progressive work environment.
Don’t be a part of the problem. We can all be subconsciously bias at times and we may mean no ill intentions but as leaders we must acknowledge that although our biases may not be intended as racism or to be hurtful it absolutely is problematic and will sabotage any positive work culture that is established and discourage every impacted team member who is crucial to your success. Don’t participate in discrimination consciously or subconsciously! To avoid bias you can:
Utilize Blind Auditions
Blind auditions were extremely popular in the San Francisco Symphony in the 50s as they launched a fight to end discrimination and they were nationally recognized for their efforts. You see similar auditions today in pop culture in shows such as The Voice and in some tech career opportunities throughout Silicon Valley. But you don’t have to be a tech giant or searching for the next big star to fight against discrimination. If you are an owner, manager, of HR decision maker make an effort to view your job candidates through an objective and non bias lens. Look at the following when making your decisions:
Relative career experience
Proven success and deliverables
Their understanding of your company vision and goals
You should completely avoid acknowledging or considering a candidate’s:
Disabilities (That don’t prevent them from performing responsibilities that the position requires).
Promote Based on Production
When promoting within, which is always smart to do, do so not based on personal relationships or shared interests and other commonalities. Do so based solely on their ability to be a team player and a major PRODUCER. It’s all about results. Seek those who are results driven and over deliver on their responsibilities and promises. Production creates a winning team.
Participate in Sensitivity Training
We all agree that bias can be subconscious. One way to bring it to the forefront of our mind is to keep the conversation going. Sensitive race and cultural topics are not taboo. They do belong in the workplace through structured conversation and moderated engagement. Leaders should encourage their teams yearly or even quarterly to learn about other cultures, religions, and any differences represented at work. It is also helpful to conduct routine employee interviews to address any concerns or any occurrences that may make someone feel uncomfortable or produce a negative energy at work. Lastly, every leader should create routine workshops and training that reminds their team of what it means to be sensitive, empathetic, and tolerant at work. This training should also include the study of companies who prosper and fail concerning minority sensitivity because we can always learn from our competitors.
Invite an Outsider
To eliminate bias at work it will help to bring in an outsider who is neutral to observe your team. It can be a mentor or a board member or you can hire from an independent party. The goal is for them to:
Review your equity plan
Review your anti-discrimination policies
Interview your team on their work culture experience
Examine your talent pool of potential candidates to make sure your talent pipeline is inclusive and diverse.
This outsider may see and notice several things you as a leader have become bias or numb to.
No company benefits from an environment full of bias. Bias hinders growth and production. However, bias and inclusive work environments foster growth, tolerance, and empowerment for every single team member regardless their appearance, backgrounds, or lifestyle choices! I hope your work environment removes bias and increases success and that your life is enriched and prosperous because of it.
If this inspires you and you want more thoughtful commentary and discussions on leadership, success, professionalism, and more subscribe to my YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/DialogueWithDallas