We all have unconscious biases. Those biases can affect the way we hire, interact with coworkers, and make business decisions, so it’s important to learn how they surface and how we can address them.
Most people think immediately of race-, gender-, or age-based bias. Some that you may not often consider are name bias, where certain names (usually Anglo-sounding names) are preferred over others; beauty bias, where more attractive individuals receive more favorable treatment; affinity bias, where we favor people who are similar to us; and recency bias, where greater importance is attributed to recent events over past events.
The FLEX model can be a useful tool for recognizing bias. First, focus within and identify why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling. Next, learn about others; consider others’ experiences and what they may be feeling in the situation. Then, engage in dialogue; it’s a two-way communication involving asking open-ended questions without being defensive or combative. Finally, expand the options and brainstorm ways to work together and what your solutions will be moving forward.
To mitigate bias in your workplace, you need to address it. Bring attention to the fact that bias exists, we all have biases, and we need to call it out from one another. It’s also important for leaders to speak about it, address concerns they see, and consider their own biases. Taking Harvard’s IAT test can be useful, and establishing accountability partners helps people stay focused and committed to addressing their bias.
The DEIB space is starting to pivot from the term “safe space” to “brave space.” Safe spaces mean you’ll be protected and people won’t be combative with you when you show up as yourself; in brave spaces, you also feel comfortable engaging in conversation and your colleagues treat you with respect, kindness, and empathy. For a brave space to occur, you need to set ground rules and get leadership on board with supporting those ground rules and holding people accountable when they’re not followed.
In this episode’s listener question, we’re asked about common mistakes in meeting etiquette. In the news, SHRM recently surveyed 1,500 HR professionals about their organizations’ return to office plans.
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