How Companies are Successfully Addressing Unconscious Bias

Everyone has unconscious biases. This can include passing judgment on a person based on their weight, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, etc. These biases can shape how one treats others, including how managers treat their employees and how employees treat each other. It’s important to recognize biases and learn how to make adjustments to those initial judgments in order to see the person as a whole and all levels of employees equally. Here are some ways to address unconscious bias in the workplace.

Take a second look at your assumptions.

Reflection is critical to changing one’s unconscious bias. Understanding where your assumptions come from and challenging them leads to a more empathetic view of others. Here are some statistics that show unconscious bias in the workplace:

  • 48% of African American women report being mistaken for administrative or custodial staff.

  • Less than 15% of U.S. men are over 6 feet tall, yet 60% of corporate CEOs are at least this height.

(Source: How Unconscious Bias is Affecting Your Workplace) 

See the person’s skillset, journey, and value as a whole.

When making decisions for hiring or promotions, it can be easy to look at their resume and make decisions solely based on what’s listed. For instance, someone with an MBA from a prestigious school might seem like the better candidate choice. Instead, it’s important to look at the whole experience of the candidate. How has their skillset grown during their career? If they are a candidate for a promotion, what value have they added to the team during their tenure? Do they have a skillset that fills a gap in the company’s current need? Asking more in depth questions about the candidate, team, and position can lead to a more nuanced look at hiring and promotions that can lead to inclusive and diverse teams.

Create collaborative projects.

Collaboration in the workplace leads to well functioning teams and a positive work experience for employees. Working with others on an involved project leads to a better understanding of fellow team members as well. Ensuring team members on projects have diverse experiences and backgrounds can lead employees to have a greater understanding of people’s experiences as a whole. Beyond internal projects, seeking outside programs and volunteer opportunities that puts employees in touch with people from diverse backgrounds can also help break down unconscious bias.