Managers find making unbiased decisions one of the most challenging parts of their job. As leaders, they must set an example, and being aware of their preconceived ideas sometimes comes as an unexpected roadblock. Although many of us think we are objective and inclusive; we don’t realize that we gravitate towards groups or individuals who share the same ideas. This affects the workplace culture, resulting in uniform environments that make gaining awareness of our biases troublesome.
The influence of unconscious bias in our decisions making
It is no secret that our way of thinking influences our actions, but when dealing with groups of people, it is essential to understand how we might affect them. When creating a team, the selection process will quickly develop a stereotype of who is invited in the workplace, which may leave others feeling out of place. Leaders must be intentional in creating diverse environments. Inclusive workplaces where employees feel openness towards collaboration regardless of their race, gender, or sexual identity tend to be more successful.
A survey conducted by BCG diversity and innovation reported that companies with an “above average” rate of diversity generated 74% more revenues derived from innovative ideas. For this reason, identifying the differences that may hinder judgment and providing proper DEI training to managers are crucial steps to avoiding unconscious bias.
Identifying our biases
The first step of identifying our biases is becoming aware that everyone has unconscious biases regardless of their background. Pay attention to your reactions and avoid acting upon impulse. Managers who can understand their behaviors become more aware when tensions arise. They better assess whether their decisions were based on professional experience or their frame of thinking.
In addition, a manager who is aware of differences in opinion shows empathy and consideration of others. Welcoming a diverse train of thought eliminates barriers and promotes cooperation in management, innovation and collaboration. In doing this, managers provide a culture of openness within the group and prove their willingness to become allies despite their differences.
Why training leaders is important
While leaders have developed expertise in their profession, most get little or no training in people management. Nurturing their ability to tackle issues in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) becomes beneficial for their growth while improving the company culture.
On the other hand, leaders who don’t get coaching in this area can cause or allow microaggressions due to a lack of awareness. This causes disharmony in the workplace, which compromises employee engagement, loyalty and even recruitment. Learning about biases and implementing DEI in the workplace is the next step to awareness and inclusion.
HR leaders who can provide tools and thorough training are vital to supporting employees’ careers. This also applies to managers. When companies offer training and support on all topics, including biases in the workplace, it will be much easier to avoid challenges in the future. Creating a comfortable working environment for all employees increases retention, engagement, and overall happiness.