Integration and inclusion are at the forefront of our minds right now, not least because February is Black History Month. Often, it’s not the deliberately divisive acts you need to watch out for, but rather the unconscious bias that harms relationships and ultimately performance. Here’s how to celebrate diversity, this month and beyond…
We all have unconscious biases – around race, sexuality and so on, but also about height, hobbies, hair colour and a thousand other attributes. They are natural and are designed to make our brains more efficient. Admitting bias opens up the conversation, and is the first step to overcoming it.
Fair decisions are grounded in fact. Set clear criteria upfront, gather evidence from a variety of sources and evaluate it against the original criteria to avoid bias tipping the scales. Think: would I be confident explaining my decision to a jury?
Favouritism is a form of bias too, and it’s often just as unintentional. We favour those who are similar to ourselves, and those who we perceive as competent and warm. Check that positive emotions haven’t played a role in your decision either.
Encourage a culture where people feel safe to challenge each other’s assumptions. When bias is suspected, address it in a respectful – not accusatory – tone, discuss the implications, and move on united. That way neither the target nor the perpetrator feel threatened.
We can help to rewire our thinking – and that of others – by paying close attention to the language we use, the role models we offer and our ‘go-to’ assumptions about people’s abilities. Take practical steps each day to create a workplace where people know it’s ok to be different.
For more hints and tips follow us on twitter @themindgym
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