Redesign Organizational Processes to Reduce Unconscious Bias


Redesign Organizational Processes to Reduce Unconscious Bias

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Research shows that most diversity training programs don't help in changing attitudes or behavior over the long-term, or increasing the amount of diversity in the workplace.

 

 

A number of organizations are struggling to create more diverse workplaces and are pointing to unintentional bias as a possible barrier to building and sustaining workplace diversity. And many organizations have turned to diversity awareness training as a means to addressing unconscious bias.

But, unfortunately, the research shows that most diversity training programs don't help in changing attitudes or behavior over the long-term, or increasing the amount of diversity in the workplace. Iris Bohnet, a behavioral economist at Harvard Kennedy School, suggests companies redirect efforts from trying to eradicate workplace bias to redesigning organizational processes to prevent bias from taking hold to begin with.

In an interview with the Harvard Business review about her book, What Works: Gender Equality by Design, Bohnet discusses how behavioral design can reduce bias. She advises that companies first take a more evidence-based approach to diversity programs and initiatives, including measuring program effectiveness against desired outcomes. And for those areas where companies are falling short in achieving desired outcomes, she offers suggestions on how behavioral design might help to rework decision-making processes within an organization in a way that minimizes the potential for unconscious bias to influence those processes.

 

See related Diversity Remix Blog post:

Diversity Training Isn't Increasing Diversity

 

 

Reference:

Bohnet, Iris, What Works: Gender Equality by Design, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press, 2016.

Bohnet, Iris, & Gardiner Morse, Designing a Bias-Free Organization (an interview with Iris Bohnet by Gardiner Morse), Harvard Business Review, July-Aug. 2016, pp. 62-67.

Dobbin, Frank, & Alexandra Kalev, Why Diversity Programs Fail: And What Works Better, Harvard Business Review, July-Aug. 2016, pp. 52-60.