Every person has unconscious biases that they carry with them everywhere they go. They even bring them to work. This bias doesn't automatically make you guilty of any of the ‘ism’s, but it does mean that bias influences and informs how you process the world and the decisions you make. It happens to everyone … because you're human. And while an individual's aim may not be to discriminate against a group or individual, the odds are there will be mistakes along the way, especially if an individual doesn't believe they have bias or hasn't done any work to understand their own biases.
The good news is that we can do something about it. The more we expose ourselves to our own unconscious bias and challenge negative stereotypes when we see them in the workplace, the better functioning and ultimately higher performing our organizations will be.
Here are 5 things you can do right now to address unconscious bias in the workplace.
1. Give yourself permission to see and acknowledge differences (for example race, gender, age, people with disabilities, sexual orientation, etc.). Stop being “difference blind” and instead ask yourself, “What assumptions do I make about these differences?”
2. Develop meaningful peer relationships across difference, which will increase your exposure to diversity, and help you to move beyond awareness and tolerance to understanding differences.
3. Remember the first time that you heard, “Black lives matter.” Was your reaction that all lives matter or did you appreciate the statement on its own merit?
4. Find a buddy and ask them to tell you which subtle behaviors – MicroTriggers – you send, and the patterns of your behaviors. For example, are there patterns of who you do and do not interrupt, ignore or acknowledge? Awareness of your patterns as a sender of MicroTriggers can reveal your unconscious biases.
5. Offer IVY Unconscious Bias training in the workplace, which will provide a safe place to learn about unconscious bias, consciously adopt new behaviors and provide tools to eliminate systemic barriers.