Workplace Diversity: What is Unconscious Bias & How to manage it? Part 2

In the first part of this post we visited the meaning of Unconscious Bias

Unconscious Bias Why should we care about Bias in the workplace?

If decision makers (managers, supervisors, directors, project managers or executives) have Bias they can either promote someone with no merit (positive bias) or hold someone back as by not considering for a promotion (A mother because the promotion involves a lot of traveling); or not hiring a very qualified person (Not hiring pregnant females, or assuming that some physically challenged people can’t handle the job). Bias unconsciously can evolve to stereotyping which can lead to discrimination which in turn can lead to law suits losing not only a lot of money but losing the organization’s reputation with future inability to attract, recruit and retain qualified diverse employees.

We tend to prefer hanging out or working with people that look like us, feel like us, talk like us and have values and beliefs like us; even when we are asked for resources or referrals we still gravitate towards people like us because we know what to expect so it is comfortable and safe. We are more tempted to rapidly judge others or criticize them if they do not fall within the lines we have set for ourselves or within the values and beliefs we grew up cherishing.

If we step out of that comfort zone as anything else, we panic as we step into unknown territory, and we find it difficult to relate to others that are different; and we tend to shy away out of fear or lack of understanding

Solutions

We all have bias and prejudice and discussing them is risky as it is easily misunderstood or mistaken for racism.

1- Self-Awareness:

– Take the implicit association test by Harvard– you will be surprised I promise you.

– It starts by knowing who we are and what is our culture as well as what values and beliefs do we carry within ourselves

– Recognize that it is normal for human beings to have unconscious preferences and biases that influences their decisions

– Identify our own unconscious bias

– Form a habit to notice the first thoughts that come to your mind when you meet someone that is different; we have the power to watch them when they first pop in our brains to deal with them

2- Understand that our Bias reactions most of the time are not towards the person in front of us but are actually a reaction to a gut feeling, or a reaction to an old impression or an old memory that we acquired either through our parents, through the Media or even seen a movie that had similar characters.

3- It takes a willingness to have an open mind not being defensive and have the courage not only to admit that we have bias but to work on correcting them

4- Use the power of Neurogenesis: Which is creating new mental paths for our brains to process information in areas that do not play to our individual or organizational strengths. As any change it is not easy, but with perseverance, will, openness to accepting different things and people, and commitment either from the person or from the organization it can happen.

5- Find common ground: As human beings we will always have something in common no matter how small or far-fetched it is like being dog owners, or loving rock and roll music or dancing etc…

6- Realize that our assumption of what is “acceptable” or normal may not appear or feel the same to others.

7- Educate yourself on different cultures and people, ask questions respectfully and be generous in educating others that ask for your help

8- Last but not least have compassion and empathy towards other human beings no matter how similar or different they can be

9- Accept (not tolerate) people for who they are not who you want them to be

10- Create a culture of inclusion in which we are adding more people, not subtracting anyone.

11- Leverage your Emotional Intelligence (Discussed in a future post)

Let your differences make a difference in the world

Connect with me on:
Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC

sahar@saharconsulting.com

http://www.saharconsulting.com

______________________________________________________________________

I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.

Let me help you Invest in your number ONE asset: Your employees

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