Workplace biases can take many different types of forms, and no matter what the form is, the result is always the same. Parts of the workforce, or some employees or some departments who are eligible are excluded from the experiences and opportunities unfairly.
As said there are different forms of workplace biases, however, the most common types of workplace biases are the implicit or unconscious bias. This is usually seen happening to the lower-level employees or the departments that are thought to be less important.
When the bias is unconscious, confrontation with it might need some caution and careful approach. Recognizing and standing up for it is the key to reducing any type of bias including unconscious bias in the workplace training. Let us understand a few more things about workplace bias.
How does it affect the workplace and its atmosphere
Bias especially unconscious bias brings out very irrelevant factors involved in decision making such as the gender factor, ethnicity factor, age factor, sexuality factor, skin color factor, personality factor which includes tattoos, hair color, facial piercing, etc. These factors of bias can affect the assessment process of an employee or a potential employee and can also affect the decision to promote someone or fire someone. Although these biases may be unconscious, nevertheless, they are unfair and are affecting the workplace and the atmosphere the employees work in. Manier times, this can affect the big time for the firm. How? For instance, due to unconscious bias, if an employer promoted an unworthy employee rather than a worthy employee, this could result in a huge loss in the future as the promoted employee was not ready to take that very responsibility. On the other hand, if you fire a worthy and hardworking employee due to unconscious bias, again this will be a huge loss for a company as you know that a company is only alive due to its employees and their hard work.
Way to reduce unconscious bias
As said earlier, unconscious bias needs to be addressed with a proper approach because the person behind creating the bias is unaware of it and might get offended if not approached in a proper manner. And this will result in an even more stressful and awkward working atmosphere. We here have a few steps that you can follow in order to reduce the unconscious bias in the workplace training.
- Expectations and feedback
This can be done by an internal PR campaign which has turned out to be beneficial for most companies all over the globe. What you can do is set up expectations of your employees or colleagues regarding the unconscious bias mitigation and let them know that this is important for every employee and is for the betterment of them and their company. Along with this, you can take their feedback. Usually, people hate name-calling as they are scared of office politics. So you can go ahead with an anonymous survey in order to gather honest feedback and reviews regarding everyone and everything such as the company, the atmosphere, their colleagues, their supervisors, their juniors, what are their expectations, and what are the things they don’t like, seniors’ or supervisors’ behavior towards them, etc. The more people will take part in the survey, the more data you will have. Collect as much data as possible, because that data will help you set the future programs to reduce the bias.
You can prepare a survey of your own, however, the most effective ones are the Likert scale surveys which include terms strongly agree and stringy disagree as options. You can also have open-ended questions so that employees can vent their emotions in the survey form.
You can include these example statements in your survey along with the Likert scale to have a more clear idea of what your employees feel:
- I am comfortable expressing my views and opinions about the workplace.
- My performance is fairly evaluated by supervisors.
- There is bias in our workplace.
- I want to participate in the initiative regarding bias reduction.
You can have some direct question such as:
- What type of workplace bias do you see?
- What ideas do you have to reduce bias?
After having initiated the survey, do keep the conversation with the employees alive, otherwise, the results won’t be as expected. You can also create groups of people who are interested in the reduction of biasedness.
- Active and voluntary participation
It is observed that mandatory participation for the unconscious bias in the workplace training may result in the backfiring of the initiative. Mandatory participation also seems like a threat to a lot of employees where they have to participate or else… On the contrary, letting your employees participate voluntarily will increase the chances of improvement and reduction in the unconscious bias. Voluntary participation may lead to inspiring non-participants. This will also eliminate the fear of the creation of secret rebels who love to break rules that are enforced on them.
- Spread awareness about Bias
Unconscious bias means that the person creating these biases is unaware of the concept of unconscious bias and the fact that he or she is practicing it. To spread awareness without directly pointing out or calling out names, the best way is through word-picture representations.
The basic agenda behind spreading awareness about bias is to ensure correct and mindful decision making when needed and avoiding mental shortcuts while hiring, firing, promoting, demoting, or even sidelining any employee of the firm.
- Create a structure
In order to reduce unconscious bias, create a structural process that everyone will follow at a given point of time. For instance, try to organize inter-department activities where people from different departments will get a chance to interact with each other, get friendly with each other, this way, no department will demean the other. Improve the decision-making process where the decisions should be backed with data and the employee’s performance not by personal vendetta or affection
- Lastly, analyze the result of the program
After having done all the steps, check and evaluate the performance of the survey. Check whether there is any improvement in the office’s atmosphere. Check whether there is a reduction in the unconscious bias. If yes then your plan is working and you need to keep doing that along with some time to time improvements. If not, then you might need to make some adjustments to the plan and try again.