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4 proven tactics to identify and overcome unconscious bias in the workplace—an EMBARC recap [Video]

Unconscious bias is more about what we fail to include in our daily lives

Mark your calendars: this October 20th, the first session of EMBARC® Talent Talks launches, bringing you the best practices, tips, and innovations on topics like employer branding and how to combat unconscious bias. Registration is free, and here’s the best part: because it’s virtual, you can join from anywhere!

We’ll be featuring some of the globe’s top visionaries and thought leaders in captivating conversation, much like this 2019 EMBARC presentation from Michelle Ruiz, the co-founder and CEO of BiasSync. If you’ve been wondering how to identify and correct bias in the workplace, this excerpt is for you!

Understanding and identifying unconscious bias

Many of us define bias by what it excludes—in other words, if you hate cilantro, you have a bias against cilantro, right? However, as Michelle Ruiz explains, unconscious bias is more about what we fail to include in our daily lives.

To demonstrate this, Michelle asked the audience to close their eyes and picture a visit to the doctor. She then asked the audience how many of them had pictured an African American or a woman as that doctor. Most audience members had automatically pictured a white male doctor because they’ve grown up in a culture that usually portrays doctors as white men. And unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there.

“There are a lot of studies that show that women actually show stronger levels of bias towards other women than men,” Michelle explained. “Many women are surprised to hear that. We, generally speaking, are more biased towards other women. And a lot of us think, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m such an advocate for women. I want to help women succeed.’ And yet, that’s just how our brains are wired based on stereotyping that goes back years based on what we’re exposed to.”

Recognizing that diversity isn’t automatically the same as inclusion

Many companies have made an effort to diversify their workforce by purposefully hiring people of color, women, and people with disabilities. However, there’s a difference between simply onboarding more diverse candidates versus fully including them in the company culture.

“Some companies are starting to realize the difference,” Michelle explained. “Inclusion is about people’s experience in the workplace. Do they feel included? Unfortunately, those who perceive bias are more than three times as likely to say they’re planning to leave their current jobs within the year. At large companies, employees who perceive bias are nearly three times as likely to be disengaged at work. And a Gallup poll estimates active disengagement costs us companies $450 billion to $550 billion per year, simply through the cost of disengagement.”

So how can companies both hire diverse candidates and make sure that they feel like they’re in the best possible place to work?

Increasing your exposure

While there are a number of ways organizations can stop workplace bias, one of the most important is making a habit of regularly interfacing with people who are different than you.

“Some of the mitigation strategy and work that happens is actually expanding your network of people,” Michelle said. “And that just doesn’t mean other ethnic groups or racial groups. It may mean, if you’re just hanging out with the IT people because that’s your group, you should go spend time with the salespeople, or the customer service people. The more we get exposed to other groups of people, including people who are disabled and others, the more we can relate to them. One of the ongoing strategies for organizations is to implement monthly habits to increase everyone’s exposure to a new network of people.”

Other workplace bias mitigation tips (hint: show everyone the money)

Michelle also recommended letting your employees know that you are prioritizing bias mitigation, and also that you value diversity. Most importantly, having an open discussion about equity is vital.

“When we talk about equity, what we’re really talking about are the financial outcomes of someone in the workplace,” Michelle said. “You’re hearing a lot more about that in recent years with the fallout of the Me Too movement, and women and pay disparity, which is a real problem in many organizations.”

Simply put: pay people fairly!

Coming to a screen (quite literally) near you!

If these insights have you feeling refreshed, inspired, and ready for more, you’re in luck!

EMBARC Table Talks

Register now for our next session of EMBARC:

  • Attending. It’s completely free, so be sure to sign up soon.
  • Participating. Great content is just one component; there’s also lively discussion. You can literally pull up a virtual chair and participate in roundtable discussions, join in on speed networking with other attendees, and book 1:1 consultations to dive into your social recruiting strategy. Participate when and how you please.
  • Sponsoring. We have several sponsorship programs and a-la-carte opportunities designed to help you make an impact with our audience of talent acquisition professionals. Please contact us for more details.

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