Overcoming Bias in the Workplace
Advocacy Who of us hasn’t blurted out an embarrassing comment? “Why did I just say that?” you think. “Could that comment mean I am biased?”
We’re all biased — even nice people like you. It’s how we’re wired. As humans, we have a tendency to prefer some things and people more than others. We use it without thinking when making rapid choices every day.
What takes place
Much of our bias is as benign as choosing your favorite salad for lunch. But if you leave it unchecked, it can cause you to inadvertently push people away. One minute you were looking forward to working with that new person at work, and the next you did something that paralyzes you as you realize you don’t want to make this awkward situation any worse.
Help — you scream inside your head. This is your own bias and once you recognize it, you are one step closer overcoming it.
“As humans, we have a tendency to prefer some things and people more than others. We use it without thinking when making rapid choices every day.”
At work, you likely interact with a variety of colleagues, your supervisor and perhaps clients or customers. Even unintentionally pushing any one of them away is not great for your career or relationships with your coworkers. What to do?
Start with yourself
With self-awareness, attention and effort, you can become aware of the way in which bias operates in your life. You don’t have to let your unconscious biases go unchallenged. Most of us don’t want to be biased, so we need to learn to control the bias so that our rational, compassionate selves can make better decisions.
How do you notice your own bias? Start paying attention to how you treat people. Do you recommend a male job candidate over a female who has the same qualifications or dismiss a candidate because of a foreign accent? Do you let a group slur go past because no one else mentions it? Try this kind of comment: “You may not be aware of this, but I am uncomfortable with the way you are talking about that group of people."
Remember, you’re not the problem. You are the solution.