Bias is pervasive; everyone has personal preferences. It is human nature to make quick assessments about situations and people based on past experiences, culture, perceptions of safety, etc. And, importantly, there is nothing inherently bad about having these biases . . . unless they lead to unfair or illegal decision-making. Hidden prejudices may manifest in the form of subtle behaviors that, taken for granted in the workplace, can hinder collaboration, harm diversity efforts, undermine individual credibility, and potentially lead to illegal discrimination. Citing real-world examples and engaging participants in discussion of their own experiences pertaining to unconscious bias, we will address practical steps for addressing two key topics:
1. How can people mitigate harms that arise from judgments they may not even be aware they have? The insidious nature of implicit behavior is that it is very hard to identify. However, by focusing on three things – (a) identifying the places where hidden biases undermine business results, (b) daily individual practices of deliberate inclusion, and (c) organizational processes designed to ensure objectivity in decision-making – the harmful impacts of implicit bias can be mitigated, if not eliminated. Importantly, by taking these actions, people will be in position to thrive and contribute to their fullest potential.
2. Can training make a difference? Training is a critical means of communicating and illustrating the impact of implicit and bias and ways to support leaders and employees in creating a more inclusive culture. Training helps to accomplish the following:
- Helps to ensure that people understand what unconscious bias is, when it happens, and ways in which it can impact teamwork and other important business objectives.
- Highlights clear and actionable steps that people can take when they recognize behavior that should be challenged.
- Creates a workplace where employees are encouraged to speak freely and respectfully about what’s on their mind without fear of repercussion.