Fighting Unconcious or Implicit Bias Through Inclusion in the Workplace
When a team works together, it works well. When employees work against each other, mistrust, or carry bias, they struggle to reach a shared goal of success. The key to fighting unconscious or implicit bias is promoting inclusion in the workplace.
Unconscious Bias and the Bottom Line
If the only commonality your staff sees between them is who signs their paycheck, you may be experiencing implicit bias (also known as unconscious bias) in your workforce. Implicit bias is an attitude we carry without awareness or conscious direction. We all have biases, whether we admit to them or not. As children, we gravitate towards those us the “girls on one side, boys on the other” mentality and these deep-rooted feelings linger so long we forget they exist.
Implicit bias isn’t consciously held. While we may not actively separate ourselves from those with differences, something often keeps us from reaching out. And for this reason, workplace implicit bias works against the bottom line within a company. When employees don’t see themselves as equals, whatever their role in the company, the road to success is rocky.
Inclusion in the Workplace Starts by Finding Common Ground
How do you create a workforce that pulls employees together rather than apart? Instead of trying to overcome unconscious biases, look for common ground. Develop an atmosphere of inclusion in the workplace that seeks and builds on commonality, rather than ones that focuses solely on differences.
Your staff is more alike than different—they all work for the same company! And while they may have divergent roles, their common goal is success. Build workplace inclusion with opportunities for inclusion among diverse staff members. As Dr. Sondra Thiederman points out, you can create goal-oriented teams, open opportunities for dialog, and even encourage support groups and clubs within your organization.
A great way to open dialog and give employees a chance to find common ground is though the orchestration and support of affinity groups. Once the door to commonality is open, the team can work together to address unconscious bias. If you encourage employees to meet weekly or monthly, like working parents, or professionals of color, you’ll find a broad range of members start to self-include and produce a more inclusive workplace culture.
When employers open up the doors to these opportunities, employees typically find their own path in close proximity to their peers, helping facilitate dialog and ultimately find common ground. The key is giving your diverse workforce the opportunity to open up lines of communication because when dialog begins, inclusion in the workplace typically follows.