Unconscious bias is a part of our evolutionary nature. However, it can have many negative effects when it leads to exclusionary behavior within organizations. The following article discusses why biases occur and reveals how we can break through them in order to promote and receive the benefits of more inclusive workplace cultures.
As we begin to move on after the most bruising political campaign recent memory, it is a good time for a hard look at how our democratic process turned so ugly and disenfranchising to so many Americans. How did we get to a place where the polarization and acid-like negativity actually became news in its own right? As someone who studies human and workplace behavior and focuses on how to drive organizational change, it is interesting to note that this political season has been fueled, in part, by a number of phenomena that I see regularly in the workplace—every workplace, not just in the halls of Congress or in campaign headquarters.
In the wake of increasing incidents involving police shootings of unarmed African American males, it seems logical that police forces across the country would benefit from training that addresses the impact of implicit bias amongst officers. But will that make a difference? Skeptics of implicit bias training raise valid concerns about its effectiveness, especially for police officers who are often placed in high-pressure situations in which they may be more likely than other professions to need to rely on quick judgments. The question discussed in the following article is whether or not training can be effective in helping to reduce or eliminate the negative effects that implicit biases can result in.
Legacy Business Cultures announced today that it has been selected by the Department of Justice to develop and deploy implicit bias training for all of the agency’s 5,800 attorneys. Legacy’s efforts will be part of a much broader DOJ initiative to roll out training to employees as well as agents within the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and U.S. Marshals Service (USMS).
Each of us stores our own version of “truth” in our minds. This story of right and wrong, of past events and their presumed causes and effects (and their emotional impact on us), becomes the gold standard by which we anticipate how current events will unfold and affect us in the future. Helpful sometimes and burdensome in others, this is the realm of unconscious bias.
By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Starbucks’ Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz wanting to start a discussion about race in America. He started by holding forums over the past three months in which more than 2,000 Starbucks partners (their term for employees) discussed racial issues in Oakland, Los Angeles, St. Louis, New York and Chicago.
Society’s opportunities for improvement, when it comes to the issue of equal rights in the workplace, are well documented. Stacks of studies outline issues including the glass ceiling, pay equality, and maternal wall bias, or discrimination that occurs against caregivers, and particularly working mothers. Here are a few suggestions to start the “bias interruption” process.
Whether based on skin color, gender, accent, perceived education level or economic status, we all have mental models that we form and apply to different groups of people. Although easy and automatic, unconscious bias can be overcome by cultivating a mindset of curiosity.
Every decision that we make and every interaction we are a part of are influenced by factors both within and outside of our scope of awareness. The following are six suggestions to identify and minimize the factors that may lead us to make faulty assumptions and reach inaccurate conclusions, so we can significantly improve the quality of both individual and group decisions.