We all have unconscious biases, which doesn't make us bad people, it simply means we're human.
Our minds are wired for both instinctive-type thinking and deeper thinking, helping us navigate daily life. Unfortunately, the down side to the instinctive-type thinking is that it can cause us to unintentionally draw inaccurate conclusions about each other.
So it makes sense that organizations are taking steps to address the unconscious biases that can unknowingly creep into organizational decision-making processes, making it difficult to build diverse and inclusive workplaces, reap the benefits of diversity, and avoid the real-life negative consequences to those individuals hurt by unconscious bias.
But there's a problem. Organizations are spending a lot of time and money using an approach (diversity awareness training) that empirical research shows doesn't help in changing attitudes or behaviors over the long-term, or increasing workplace diversity. The research also shows that some diversity training can even have negative impacts. When organizations are unable to effectively address unconscious bias and its limiting effect on workplace diversity, it exposes them to risks to their cultures and reputations. And it keeps them from realizing the benefits diversity can offer, including the ability for diversity to enhance creativity & innovation, team performance, employee engagement, and business performance.
But the research offers beacons to guide organizations to more effective approaches to diversity management that can help address unconscious bias, including the following three steps:
1. Apply behavioral design to organizational processes to prevent unconscious bias from gaining a foothold.
2. Increase opportunities for interaction among people with diverse backgrounds.
3. Incorporate perspective taking into team interactions.
Let's work together in using inclusive leadership, effective diversity management, and teaming as a vehicle for mixing these approaches to help your organization mitigate unconscious bias, build a reputation for diversity and inclusion, and accelerate the ability to realize the business benefits diversity offers.