We all have bias. We form our bias from experience, interacting with others, responding to our environment and gathering and processing information that we read, see or hear. All these things shape our viewpoint, our personality and our perspective. It’s just part of being human. What’s important is that we are aware of our bias and that we take steps to make sure that our bias doesn’t impact our actions or decisions in the workplace.
Bias can take many forms. HR.com defines bias as “a subjective preference toward a particular viewpoint or belief that prevents a person from maintaining objectivity.” People tend to have bias toward people who are similar to themselves. Most people are blind to their bias, not realizing their tendency to favor someone that looks like them, acts like them, or someone who attended the same college or belongs to the same social clubs. Unfortunately, when bias creeps into the workplace, it can result in distrust, discrimination, poor morale, disengagement and high turnover.
Leaders, who want to build trust in their organization should make a conscious effort to identify their own bias and put checks and balances in place to assure their biases don’t negatively affect how they interact with people or their decisions. Sometimes just being mindful of your own bias can make a big difference in how you approach interactions and make decisions.
Companies can also adopt tools that help eliminate bias in decision-making. For example, using a decision matrix when making personnel decisions about hiring, pay or promotion can add an element of objectivity that supports fairness and equity.
Identifying your own bias can be a difficult task as we are often blind to our own tendencies. Seeking input from others and using decision-making tools are two actions that leaders can take to eliminate workplace bias and foster a more equitable and inclusive work environment.