Put an End to Implicit Bias in the Workplace With These 5 Tips!
Summary- In this blog, we will uncover some of the impactful ways to combat implicit bias in the workplace and build a better employee experience. Before getting into the crux of the matter, let’s understand what implicit bias in the workplace entails and how it can be a hindrance in establishing a healthy workplace culture.
There are innumerable examples of implicit bias in the workplace that frequently go unnoticed but leave a severe impact. While organizations strive to make employee well-being a priority, a lot of work still needs to be done on making the initiatives effective. Organizations are steering their efforts in the wrong direction by relying solely on policies and DEI mission statements to educate people on the importance of fairness and equality at work. However, the reality is that workplace policies won’t have an impact unless they are put into practice. There is a strong need to look beyond DEI policies and close the gap between how you envision your workplace to be and how it actually looks.
From an HR standpoint, having a bias-free culture is important to sustain a diverse workforce and overcome the challenges of the Great Resignation. The talent heads of organizations need to evaluate their day-to-day interactions because that is where biases stem from. In this blog, we will uncover some of the impactful ways to combat workplace bias and build a better employee experience.
Before getting into the crux of the matter, let’s understand what implicit bias in the workplace entails and how it can be a hindrance in establishing a healthy workplace culture.
What is Implicit Bias in the Workplace?
Unconscious or Implicit bias in the workplace is particularly a quick thought, sentiment, or judgment about the other person which is often formed outside of one’s conscious awareness. These opinions are generally based on age, gender, race, beliefs, and lead to challenges at work.
Everyone is prone to biases — conscious or unconscious — there’s no denying it!
Unconscious biases can occur in a fraction of second and can hamper long-term decision-making.
To make matters worse, most of the time, you might not even be aware of your blind spots because they often arise out of social conditioning or stereotypical beliefs.
When left unaddressed, implicit bias becomes a major impediment for talent acquisition and decision making, and can also negatively impact an organization’s bottom line. Implicit bias in the workplace assumes greater importance in the context of employee wellness, recruitment, and positive workplace culture.
How Does Implicit Bias in the Workplace Affect Organizations?
68 percent of the employees believe that being subjected to everyday biases adversely affected their productivity, according to the Deloitte 2019 State of Inclusion Survey.
Additionally, 3 in every 5 employees in US, UK, France, and Germany have experienced racial bias, age or gender discrimination in the workplace.
The studies of unfair workplace practices are plenty. And yet, organizations are struggling to alleviate its impact or eliminate it altogether.
This multi-level discrimination continues to negatively impact organizations through low employee retention, an unproductive workforce, and a declining bottom line. From preventing potential employees to attain leadership roles to unequal pay and acknowledgment at work, implicit bias in the workplace needs to be taken seriously and tackled in real-time.
Consider the Following Tips To Get Rid of Implicit Bias in the Workplace
Keep “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” at Bay
While hybrid ecosystems seem to be viewed positively by employees, they can be a major breeding ground for disparities and segregation. The most common grievances around hybrid work models including locations, calendars, and technologies not only blur the boundary between home and office but also contribute to weakening moments of connection, ineffective collaboration, and proximity bias to name a few ill-effects.
One of the most common biases that is most likely to be witnessed by employees operating remotely is proximity bias. There are several instances of proximity bias in the workplace that are known to disrupt employee morale especially when leaders unknowingly start giving preference to on-site employees over remote employees because they believe that the former work harder and are more productive.
To ensure a smooth transition and promote a bias-free work culture, you should give equal weightage to both groups, irrespective of where they work on a certain day. Given the fact that remote employees do not have ample opportunities for facetime, try to incorporate rotating rosters wherein all team members get to interact in person with the same advancements.
Communication is extremely vital when working remotely. Make sure your employees have easy access to you. Leverage different channels of communication and make the most of video calls to meet occasionally with your teams. Another fair practice that can help tackle implicit bias in the workplace is to announce meet-ups or team-building outings where employees can be their true selves.
If your organization plans to make hybrid the new norm, you cannot afford to leave proximity bias to chance as it can result in poor performance, high turnover, and loss of employee trust.
Take an Inclusive Approach to Your Hiring Process
A biased hiring decision can be a significant obstruction in your attempts to create an equitable workforce. To address this, as talent managers you should make certain tweaks right from the beginning of their recruitment process. Some of the effective ways to achieve this include:
- Use of Gender-Neutral Job Descriptions: The kind of jargon or phrases used in job postings plays a critical role in determining who applies for the position. To mitigate biases in the screening process, make the most of gender-neutral job descriptions. Using an inclusive language that showcases your organization’s diverse culture and welcomes applicants from different backgrounds, castes, cultures, genders or races goes a long way in nurturing not just new, but existing employees too.
- Blind Recruitment: Blind hiring is another impactful approach to eliminating unconscious bias. Instead of surrendering yourself to your preconceived notions, which otherwise may lead to implicit bias in screening decisions, practice blind hiring!
Blind hiring is a candidate screening approach that removes a candidate’s personal, socio-demographic, and qualification details from their resume. Also known as anonymous hiring, this approach ensures that all applicants are evaluated on the same criteria and are given a fair chance, provided they have the required skill sets. Blind hiring can be very useful to set aside biases seemingly inherent to the hiring process, find top talent, and promote diversity in the workplace.
Create a Psychologically Safe Workspace
Psychological safety in the workplace is a critical step towards alleviating implicit bias in the workplace. If your team members feel empowered to voice their perspectives at work, they are willing to unleash their genuine behaviors and perform better, as Gallup predicts! Besides, a more inclusive culture where employees feel safe, are being listened to, and are appreciated for diverse thoughts can be a game-changer for healthier relationships at work, translating into improved employee performance, retention, and overall business success.
Other than that, safe workplaces also have a positive impact on how the organizations are perceived by internal and external stakeholders.
So, how do you cultivate psychological safety in your workplaces?
Leaders need to give major impetus to diverse experiences. Regardless of differences in points of view, employees should feel a sense of belonging. They should be included in the decision-making and made comfortable when sharing ideas, opinions, or concerns. Such culture attracts job seekers and is critical to building an inclusive organization.
Provide Opportunities to Overcome Implicit Bias
Acknowledging the fact that biases exist can help you let go of them and make changes. That brings the role of unconscious bias awareness training into the picture. The importance of awareness around unconscious bias is deeply understated in building an open and inclusive work culture.
At KNOLSKAPE, we leverage experiential learning to help organizations and their leaders overcome unconscious biases. ‘UnBias’, a simulation-based course, touches upon significant aspects of unconscious bias and addresses the invisible biases that people don’t even realize they have. UnBias is a learning program that employees at all levels can take and learn to manage their own biases that lead to poor decision-making.
Understanding and recognizing biases is the first step towards rooting out implicit bias and encouraging leaders to reassess whether they are inclined towards employees because they align with the organization’s goal or because they simply “like them”. By accepting biases at any given moment, leaders can be mindful in their decision-making.
Read more about our newly launched simulation, The UnBias!
Consider a 360-degree Feedback Approach in Performance Reviews
When it comes to performance reviews, accuracy is critical. A major issue with traditional quarterly reviews is that it lacks transparency and a systematic comparative evaluation. A fair review policy has no place for biases or favoritism. Employees look for honest, growth-oriented feedback and they are willing to quit if they are not assessed fairly for their efforts. Meanwhile, organizations have realized that the traditional ways of conducting performance reviews are no longer beneficial and need a change.
In the age of the Great Reshuffle, employees cannot wait until an annual review to find out how they are doing in their current role. Hence, talent acquisition teams need to implement a real-time, transparent employee recognition system to ensure that employees’ contributions are not overlooked. In this context, a 360-degree feedback approach serves the right purpose.
360-degree feedback or multi-rater assessment system centers on anonymous feedback and allows multiple people from the organization to provide a holistic view of an employee’s overall performance. Along with managers, direct reports, peers, and business partners, employees themselves are consulted about their performance.
Since people from multiple facets are involved in the process, chances for biases to be formed are greatly reduced. Unlike conventional performance reviews, 360-degree feedback drills into data to evaluate employees’ strengths and weaknesses which, in turn, help managers make better decisions when promoting employees.
More than a decent pay hike, job seekers strongly prioritize a diverse and inclusive workplace when making a new career move. This means you need more than a workplace culture that is rooted in belongingness, equal opportunities, and fair work practices. A happier and productive workforce has far-reaching effects in terms of boosting innovation, improving employee engagement, attracting a wider talent pool, and much more. If you are looking forward to creating a culture of happiness, take a look at our “Happiness at work” simulation that inspires leaders to build happier and more productive workplaces with actionable approaches.
Fostering a culture of inclusion is not an overnight activity. It has to be deliberate, purposeful, and continuous. If leaders are resistant to change, diversity cannot be leveraged. As leaders, you need to establish psychological safety and empower people to be their real selves. That mindset shift will lead to the development of an equitable workplace that acknowledges differences and diverse opinions.
Note- This blog was originally published here!