Hidden Bias - we all have them and they effect our lives in many ways

Have you ever stopped to think about how you go about making decisions?

Do you typically seek people who think more like you to join a work team?

Do you tend to hire people based on the "fit" in the culture?

Most of us don't see how our decisions impact our choices in life.

How can leaders or business owners be part of the solution in getting us to approach our work differently?

We want to have an environment that is inclusive and open to diverse groups and diverse opinions.  Such work teams lead to higher performing employees as the "collective intelligence" is more valuable to making solid decisions.  I see this all of the time through my organization development work that involves employee empowerment and engagement in making decisions about how to best accomplish their work.  I also tend to ensure that any workgroups that I create to help solve problems are focused on the skills needed for best decisions and it's best to obtain different perspectives, so that is also part of the process of creating a group. Find those who understand the work but come at it in different ways as one example.  We all have something to teach one another!

While we can't completely eliminate bias we can "interrupt" it. But how?

First you have to understand the common ways bias plays out in everyday interactions:

  •  Some groups have to prove themselves more than others
  • Some behaviors are more accepted than others 
  • Some women with children feel conflicted as they face disapproval for being too career focused
  • Disadvantaged groups find themselves pitted against one another because of differing strategies for assimilating or refusing to do so.

So what should we do to "interrupt" such biases?

  • Assess your hiring strategies.  Be clear that you desire a diverse work group.
  • Be sure you have objective information and standards for all to follow.  Consistency in how we approach, assess and utilize the expertise of others is key to focusing properly on the issue at hand.
  • Be sure that you actively seek to find a diverse group of candidates.  Those who will approach or think through situations in a different way so that all can learn from one another and understand/appreciate other viewpoints.
  • When we talk about "culture fit", define what we mean.  Focus more on things like accountability rather than personality traits that are similar to others.  Be clear on qualifications and expectations.  Find people that have a work pattern that fits this type of "culture" for starters.
  • Limit referral hiring.  While this can be very helpful, we have to be careful that it doesn't eliminate a pool with diverse candidates.
  • Use skill based questions at the interview.
  • "Hide" information on applications that can immediately lead to some type of "bias".  (https://hrwebsource.com/collections/webinars/products/hidden-bias-in-our-decision-making) this webinar gives step by step best practices related to removing information that could lead to bias.
  • Create questions that are skills based; use behavioral types of questions as well.  
  • Manage this day to day.  We can fall into old habits when it comes to our managing people.  We need to be mindful of how we go about creating our work teams and monitoring contributions over time.  
  • Keep opportunities for all open to be a part of decision making and as a result they tend to "own" their performance.

There are many ways to work through this but the webinar link above gives you some practical ways of implementing strategies to begin to remove inherent processes that can lead to bias.  

I would highly recommend you actively seek to change how you go about your hiring and other group work.  The webinar will help you get through this by providing some useful strategies.  See what you think.  

Remember, subscription online clients, your discount applies to all webinars.

The first step is to realize that no matter how hard we try, we can always try harder to understand one another.  We can seek the value of all people.  We are all more the same than different, but we need our differences to optimize our decision making and increase our collective intelligence over time.

What have you done in your business to reduce "hidden bias"?



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