How to Educate Your Employees to Recognise and Eliminate Bias Humans have always been called “the rational species,” but human choices are often not as rational as perceived. In fact, in many contexts or situations, human behaviour is biased and does not fall under the purview of rational choice.
Biases have their roots in human evolution, and clustering of data or stereotyping can speed up thinking. But it can also result in prejudgments and biased decisions or behaviour.
Everyone has some degree of bias but may or may not be aware that they hold these biases. However, the worrying part is when these prejudices manifest themselves in one’s personal life and professional life and affect behaviour towards others.
So how do employers ensure their employees don’t exhibit unconscious (or conscious) biases at the workplace? Keep reading to find out more.
How Biases Affect the Workplace?
A study showed that a whopping 39% of employees said they experience bias at their workplace frequently – at least once a month.
Biases in the workplace can have adverse consequences on employee experience, and over time, they can even hamper the company’s ability to execute its business. They affect how one evaluates talent, performance, assignments, and promotions.
For example, older people are discriminated against and thought not to be as competent or capable of performing a job as younger employees.
Or when others judge a teammate because of their weight or, even worse, gender! These biases can affect people of any background, both male and female, regardless of the person’s capabilities.
Companies working their way to fairness and diversity also need to tackle biases at the workplace urgently. This will ultimately create more inclusive, innovative, and effective workforces.
Also, studies prove that a well-managed diverse group can outperform a homogeneous one. Diverse groups also tend to be more committed, have higher collective intelligence, and have better decision-making and problem-solving skills. Hence, companies can no longer afford to ignore biases that creep into the professional spheres.
Ways to Tackle Biases in the Workplace – the ARBEK Formula!
The bad news is that reducing bias is not as simple as telling employees to suppress it. However, the good news is that if one is committed to it, it is not impossible to tackle either.
To narrow the process of reducing bias, we present to you the ARBEK formula! ARBEK stands for Acknowledge, Reflect, Breakthrough, Empathise and Keep going.
It is a formula that employers can impart to their employees as a memorable way to eliminate bias at the workplace consciously. Here’s a breakdown of the ARBEK acronym:
The first and most important step in conquering bias at the workplace is being aware of biases, making one’s employees aware of them too and acknowledging their extent and consequences. This step is crucial because if one does not admit that biases exist, they cannot address them.
Also, with awareness, you can train your employees to catch their own biases like prejudiced or racist thoughts when they occur and make a deliberate choice not to act on them. This can help reduce discrimination and prejudice over time.
One way of doing this is helping employees understand the ways bias plays out in everyday work interactions and when and where they can arise by giving them typical examples. Cataloguing every type of bias they can think of in the workspace is a good start.
This is crucial because creating awareness will help them be mindful of what motivates their behaviour before they act.
Although biases may be unconscious, ingrained human behaviour, they can still be controlled or eliminated.
Teams can go through different situations where they can consciously practice unbiased behaviour and learn how they behave differently from their typical behaviour.
Significantly, encouraging employees to do a little self-reflection to understand how they formed their biases in the first place can go a long way in reducing or even eliminating harmful behaviours.
3. Breakthrough stereotypes, encourage interaction
Human beings tend to form biases against people who are different from them. But they can break these stereotypes by realising that although people may be culturally and physically different, they are humans, just like themselves. Therefore, similarities first, and differences later approach can help eliminate biased thoughts to a large extent.
So, by getting to know their different colleagues, employees can learn more about the people they are biased against, which can help reduce prejudices through positive interpersonal interactions. In addition, employees with different experiences and diverse backgrounds can learn about one another and create new connections.
4. Emphasize empathy
Human beings are indeed less empathetic to those who are different from them. But empathy is key to eliminating bias.
Encouraging employees to connect empathetically can improve their interactions across race, gender, etc. Allowing every employee to have a voice and motivating others to understand situations from another’s perspective can lead to greater interest in each other’s welfare and more positive relationships.
5. Keep the learning ongoing
Biases cannot be eliminated overnight, and one awareness or training session will not dent any situation. So, if you aim for diversity and inclusiveness, you have to commit to constant change and improvement.
One way to do this is to get employees directly affected by bias to keep sharing their experiences with their colleagues. Keep employees’ learning on their toes, and hold them accountable for their behaviour.
Get employees to regularly meet and share their positive experiences after acknowledging their biases and inspiring others to do the same. This practice will also help to gauge if a change is constantly occurring.
If companies are to be more diverse, impartial, and inclusive, they have to take concerted action to eliminate discriminatory behaviour. The idea is to inspire the workforce to bravely examine and improve their behaviour by understanding their own unconscious biases, exploring how to overcome them, and focusing on progress.
This is how companies can turn their workplaces into environments where everyone truly feels a sense of belonging, acceptance and appreciation.
And now it is your turn. Do you know of any different or effective ways to fight biases in the workplace? If you do, we would love to hear from you! Leave us a comment!