Ways HR Can Combat Unconscious Bias

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We all have unconscious bias and while it’s not intentional, it happens as a result of past experiences with the outcome being that certain people or groups benefit. Unconscious bias is the prejudice or unsupported judgments that are in favor of or against one thing, person, or group as compared to another.

These biases are learned stereotypes that are not only unintentional and automatic, but that are deeply engrained in us which is why unconscious bias creeps into the workplace, undermining diversity and inclusion efforts. These unconscious biases can impact hiring, assignments, promotions, evaluations, dismissals, customer service, sales, revenue, profits and beyond. 

The important thing is that we recognize our unconscious bias and are intentional in overcoming it. Without awareness, no change can be made. Talent Culture gives some insight into how HR professionals can help organizations uncover and combat unconscious bias and its impact on the workplace through the following ways:

  • Providing awareness training: Unconscious bias training can help individuals become aware of what biases they have. It can give them the tools to override and rewire their bias  to make more conscious choices. 
  • Establish Policies: Policies can help to ensure that a workplace remains compliant with company-wide values and can help maintain the integrity of D & I efforts. One way to do this is to require that more than one person be involved in hiring decisions, so that dialogue can occur between the two decision-makers who may have different views. 
  • Creating structures: This allows for more intentional actions and provide opportunities  for colleagues and peers to identify ways bias may be seeping in.
  • Labeling the types of bias that are likely to occur: This brings the bias to the forefront and the conscious level, allowing leaders and employees to develop an increased level of awareness of them and how they affects decision-making processes on anything from hiring, promotions, compensation, and organizational culture.

Some of the ways we may not catch our unconscious bias may be while we are addressing a group. Of course, being used as a general greeting and never intending to exclude the women on the team, being mindful and removing the use of “hey guys” to address a group may be something you or others are doing that you don’t even realize is helping to foster gender bias.

Other subtle, and less obvious ways that our unconscious bias may seep into the workplace is through hiring managers who may favor a fellow graduate of their alma mater or individuals choosing to associate with others who dress, talk, act or look like them. Unconscious bias can skew the direction of an organization and if left unchecked, it can turn into discriminatory behavior further fostering inequality. 

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