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Unconscious Bias to Conscious Inclusion

Three steps to move from awareness to action

Unconscious bias is a fact of life. No matter how open-minded we think we are, we all succumb to stereotypes at times. In fact, there are 150 biases that have been categorized by social scientists whether it be race, gender, age, marital status, weight, sexual persuasion etc.

Starbucks is on the hot seat right now for discriminatory acts but almost any corporation or organization could be in the same situation. It only takes one employee acting on their own conscious or unconscious bias to put a company in the headlines. Although most major corporations educate their employees on overt discrimination, they do not often train them on unconscious bias which can be more prevalent and much harder to identify until it is too late.

So what exactly is Unconscious Bias? The most straightforward definition: Unconscious stereotypes that influence our judgement towards other people.

Unfortunately, the definition is the easy part. The hard part is identifying and implementing the necessary steps in order to move from awareness to action. Below are three ways that your organization can address the issue:

  1. Assessment – Assess how prevalent unconscious bias is within your organization. The first step is to identify often neglected organizational culture and diversity issues that can affect morale, recruitment, hiring and retention, performance and productivity, employment law liability, and a host of other issues.

  2. Coaching – Create a coaching program for employees and management that is geared toward facilitating discussion, exploring critical issues, fostering dialogue and eliciting insights to deepen participant’s self-awareness and understanding, spawn action and improve performance.

  3. Evaluation – Evaluate the effectiveness of your training program through a methodology such as the Kirkpatrick Model. Measure reaction, learning, behavior and results. Combine with rigorous analytics to identify trends, generate reports, and measure the impact of ongoing education and training.

While some organizations might be able to tackle this on their own, most will require the support of outside experts. Fortunately, there are companies, like BCT Partners, that specialize in helping move organizations from unconscious bias to conscious inclusion. By assessing the depth of the problem, developing a plan to address it, and evaluating the effectiveness, you can make the leap from awareness to action.

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