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Despite the growing efforts of expanding diversity and inclusion education in the workplace, the workforce is still seeing a major problem concerning bias. In fact, Deloitte’s recently published 2019 State of Inclusion Survey shows exactly that. While at a glance, the survey’s data seems to reflect a growing culture of inclusion with 86% of respondents reporting that they felt comfortable being themselves all or most of the time at work. However, further into the report, the survey shows that 64% of respondents have experienced or witnessed workplace bias within the last year. For organizations that have less diversity and inclusion efforts than Deloitte, that percentage is most likely a lot higher.

Unconscious biases are accumulated throughout our lives and can influence our decision-making both in our personal and professional lives. While the notion of workplace bias seems simple, there are actually many different forms of biases.

Types of Biases

  • Favoring someone we have a connection to or relationship with is known as Affinity Bias. This can lead us to favor one job candidate over another, or act more warmly towards certain employees.
  • Attribution Bias is more complex. We see this type of bias when we try to evaluate the reasons for other people’s behavior or accomplishments. For example, you might attribute your success to hard work and dedication, while you attribute an acquaintance’s success to luck.
  •  Confirmation Bias refers to the tendency of searching for information that affirms our preconceived opinions. For example, if we make a judgment about someone, we might interpret future actions to confirm our judgment.

How Bias Impacts the Workplace

We all have our own biases. However, they can manifest themselves in ways that affect other people, especially in the workplace. These are a few of the most common ways our biases affect our workplace culture.

  • When we give out raises
  • How we decide who gets a promotion
  • Who gets opportunities
  • How we write a performance review
  • Who we hire
  • How we work within a team

Tips for Avoiding Biased Behavior

Whether you recognize your own biased behavior or not, it’s important to learn and practice ways we can work through our biases in the workplace. Here are a few tips to consider, especially while at work.

Concentrate your efforts on improving processes

Most of us have a tendency to blame our biased behavior on other people. It’s a natural tendency, but it’s one that continues to promote unhealthy workplace behavior. Instead of reaching for blame, it’s important to focus efforts on improving our workplace processes. Decision-making, hiring, and promotion processes should guarantee that decisions are based on merit and work ethic rather than relationships and favoritism.

Increase training and coaching

The more we educate ourselves and our staff on workplace bias, the more we will cultivate a culture of inclusivity. It’s important to get real feedback from employees and not be afraid to address some of the most urgent problems in the workplace. The bias conversation is one to keep coming back to and addressing on a consistent basis.

Measure and set goals

As a team, you should work to set achievable goals with an end result to decrease workplace bias. This could be attending X number of trainings a year, or conducting a workplace survey on a consistent basis. At RiskVersity, we work with organizations that deeply want to address workplace bias and foster a culture of inclusion. If you and your team are ready to do the same, we’d be happy to talk with you about our services.

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