Bias continues to be a big topic in diversity and inclusion, but there is more to culture change and changing mind-set than taking a test on bias. While understanding bias is one key to diversity and inclusion practices and behaviors, it can be used as a buzz word, “trend or flavor of the month,” or an academic polemic stuck in neuroscience conversations.
Before you decide on a program about bias, think about these two factors.
- Any program that includes bias training must go beyond simple recognition and include mitigation with real examples, accountability, and transformation.
- Training alone doesn’t bring about long-term change. You need to develop and implement an ongoing strategy for creating an inclusive culture that filters out bias in all areas. Transformation has to include people at every level in your organization and every business system and process.
We have a filter in our brain that helps us interpret what we see and hear. It filters out information that is not threatening, not important, and not in our perceived reality.
We form our biases based on our experiences, what we hear and what we see. Based on our biases, we make assumptions and stereotype other people. These stereotypes impact our actions, which can lead to exclusion, discrimination, or avoidance.
We’re not responsible for the messages we received growing up, but we are responsible for what we do once we become aware how these messages influence our thinking.
In addition, not all bias is unconscious. There is bias that is deliberate and conscious, and there is the bias that leads people to stereotypes others and believe they are right. When our bias is unconscious, we’re not aware of our actions and the impact that we have on others. When our bias is conscious or deliberate, we are aware of our actions, but think we are justified because of how we consciously feel about a whole group. It doesn’t occur to us that we might be wrong.
|Learn how to create a culture of inclusion to avoid the damage hidden biases can cause to the workplace culture, when you attend: Unconscious and Systemic Bias: The Hidden Toll on Workplace Culture, Hiring, Productivity, and Retention, presented by Simma Lieberman on Tuesday, February 27, 2018. Click here to reserve your spot today!|
If you think you either have no bias, know you may have unconscious bias, or that you sometimes stereotype others, try this.
Be conscious of your visceral reaction or any thoughts or judgments you have about the next three people you see. What story or impression immediately comes to mind before you give it second thought?
Notice their age, clothing, skin color, and any other visible characteristics at the root of your bias and the first story you created.
Next, create a different story about what they do and who they are. Seeing other possibilities will help filter out your biases and wrong assumptions about people.
Point to ponder: When you have a disagreement with someone who is a different race or gender, is your first reaction to attribute the disagreement to his or her race or gender? But if you have the same disagreement with someone who is similar to you, is your first reaction to attribute it to him or her as an individual?
Bias buster: Stop thinking of individuals who are different as “representatives” of a whole group. Take your brain off automatic and put it on manual. Stay conscious!
Our best clients who are creating inclusive cultures that last take the time to understand their own thinking even if they are uncomfortable. They’re willing to review every system, process, and cultural norm in their organization to root out opportunities for bias and exclusion.
|Simma Lieberman is internationally known as “The Inclusionist,” because she creates inclusive workplaces where employees love to do their best work, and customers love to do business. In 2017. She received the Global Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award from the World Human Resource Development Congress in Mumbai.
Ms. Lieberman works with leaders of organizations who understand that while training in areas of diversity and inclusion is important, sustainable change only occurs when diversity and inclusion are integrated into the business strategy, and are part of the organization’s cultural DNA. She strongly believes that implementing good diversity management and developing cultural intelligence are necessary for organizations to stay relevant and competitive in tomorrow’s markets.
Her unique ability to view organizations through an inclusion lens also enables her to help leaders in organizations uncover employee genius, and leverage their diverse talents and skills at any level.