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  • Leonard Robinson Chin

    November 23, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    Decades of research has proven that inclusive and diverse teams are better teams. Companies who leverage the full power of their people are companies that are successful in the marketplace. Inclusion and diversity stimulate creativity and innovation. An inclusive workplace can enhance an organization’s brand and reputation. With this diversity in mind, let us discuss further on how to identify unconscious bias and how to disrupt it to promote an inclusive work environment.

    Unconscious bias is our very human and instinctual reaction to other people’s differences or sameness to us. Although we do not mean to stereotype or think less or more of people based on their differences from us, but it is our natural way of navigating the world. The first step of disrupting unconscious biases is to understand about diversity. The first thing we noticed about others is called visible diversity such as gender, skin color, physical traits, age, socio-economic status, and body size. As we subconsciously process data, our brains place the person into categories.

    Then as we learn more about a person, our brain further categorizes them based on perceived differences or similarities to us and our prior experiences. This is represented by what is known as invisible diversity such as marital status, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, values, and beliefs. To foster an inclusive organization, we need to remind ourselves that we are human and naturally have instincts that drive us to categorize others. As a result, we need to be aware of and work to remove bias from our views of others so that we can maximize our working relationship and drive business success.

    There are three ways that an organization can embrace diversity and disrupt unconscious bias:

    1. Be Aware.

    Employees need to be reminded about the importance of looking for potential areas of biases within themselves and their team. This can be done through mandatory trainings for new employees and yearly refresher trainings. These trainings should provide examples of such biases that can occur through scenario-based explanations. These trainings should also reinforce the need for employees to choose their words carefully, to consider abilities when making decisions and learn ways on how to identify biases and how to address them.

    2. Practice Inclusion

    Leaders in the organization must communicate the commitment towards inclusion in the workplace. Leaders should walk the talk and influence change in the organization towards being more inclusive. Role models that champion diversity and inclusion in the organization should be publicly recognized using the appropriate communication strategies. As part of employee engagement activities, event should be organized for a wide range of community and cultural events without any restrictions for participations. Avenues should also be able available where employees can speak up confidentially if they witness or personally experience discrimination or exclusion. They should be allowed to report such incidents without the fear of retaliation.

    3. Review policies and processes

    Policies for anti-discrimination should be included as part of the organization’s standards of business conduct that employees need to adhere to. This will set standards for inclusive practices for example during meetings and conference calls. Employees should also be encouraged to review their processes and the way they work to poke holes in the norm if they feel that a process can be done more inclusively.