5 Tips To Tackle Bias In The Workplace

Start with hiring – change the makeup of the “in-group” to both (a) reach a “critical mass” to reduce discrimination and bias caused by perceiving underrepresented groups   as “other” and (b) improve the business (diversity leads to more creativity and stronger bottom line)

  • Use structured interviews – unstructured interviews are useless for evaluation, and allow bias to creep in
  • Blind resumes before reviewing them (try Applied, GapJumpers, and Unitive) – learn from orchestras who use blind auditions behind a screen to eliminate gender bias and drastically increase number of women. The number of women in orchestras only grew massively once auditions were conducted behind a curtain. In 1970, less than 5% of the five orchestras were made up of women. Now at present day, since using a curtain to audition musicians, women make up 40% of the troop.
  • Experiment with framing – BIT study found “Challenge” and “Career” increased applications (3x) especially among women and people of color (4x). The key is to test and learn over time.

Remove barriers to success – another core principle of behavioral science. Identify what’s holding underrepresented groups back from promotion and participation, and remove those barriers. One of the biggest is Stereotype Threat – our bias to “fulfill the prophecy” of stereotypes held against us. Remove it by addressing it head-on, or by reminding people of identities that counter the stereotype (e.g. women, who were reminded that they are also Stanford students, did better on math tests)

Watch out for self-evaluations as the starting point. Men more likely to inflate self-performance reviews, then managers are subject to anchoring effect. Ask for employee review after you give yours. Similar story in cross-cultural differences in self-promotion

Establish cultural symbols and role models – invite representative people to speak at events, hang representative portraits in the hallways. (E.g. women who were shown a picture of Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel before giving a public speech did objectively better than those who were shown a picture of Bill Clinton or no picture at all.)

Consider offering salary transparency to create awareness and shed light on potential discrepancy

Leverage developing technology like GetRaised to help women ask for raises (a core driver of the pay gap) and AI algorithms to automatically screen early job candidates, removing human bias




Author: Charlotte Blank
Author Bio: Charlotte Blank leads Maritz’s practice of behavioral science and innovation. She forges the connection between academic theory and applied business practice, by elevating the use of field research to better make sense of human behavior in the evolving marketplace. Charlotte has led programs in consumer psychology and global branding during her ten years in the media and automotive industries, including various marketing roles for General Motors. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology from Emory University, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. Charlotte is obsessed with experiments, ever-curious about what “makes us tick,” and a frequent contributor to PeopleScience.com.
Link to social media or website: http://www.peoplescience.com


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