As humans, we are bound to have biases. Though in some cases, we may never be aware if we tend to side toward things or even people. The truth is, being biased is part of how we go through our life experiences. We make decisions, small or big, every single day of our lives. Our decision-making process becomes influenced by our biases, whether consciously or unconsciously. So, it goes without saying that these biases are also present in the workplace.
While we accept the fact that we may have similar and different biases at the same time, we need to know how these can affect the way we do work, interact with our colleagues, and take steps toward our career success.
Now, how can workplace bias affect a company’s culture?
Impact of Bias in the Workplace
At times, we might think that some of our biases can be harmless. However, these can influence the way we communicate and work with others.
One of the negative effects of bias in the workplace is creating “workplace norms” that hinder initiatives and the development of inclusive company culture. For instance, gender biases can lead to discrimination.
Further, workplace bias can also shape an organization’s recruitment and retention initiatives. It affects standards on who gets hired, promoted, and retained based on the unconscious biases of decision-making teams. In the long run, employees or even leaders might feel left out or unappreciated with their hard work simply because they don’t fit in. This can also contribute to the top reasons why great employees quit.
For traditional work setups, people who experience issues brought about by unconscious biases feel that they’re alienated; which results in them withholding their opinions and ideas. Now that more and more businesses and organizations are adopting remote work setups, virtual office culture can also be more affected.
Steps to Avoid Workplace Bias
Acknowledging that workplace biases take place is a good first step toward a more inclusive culture at work. However, the company’s efforts and employees’ cooperation must not stop there.
To avoid bias in the workplace, organizations, leaders, and employees must:
- Build meaningful relationships anchored on trust and respect.
- Look into company policies and update as necessary to help change or improve attitudes and processes in place.
- Engage with employees, most especially those who are voicing out their feeling of being left out. Ask them what unconscious biases they have witnessed or experienced so that these can be acted upon.
- Leaders must take initiative on letting their team members be more vocal about their thoughts about work.
- Conduct surveys or interviews with employees regarding what issues they have faced or are facing in their current working environment.
- To promote workplace diversity, leaders should create avenues to empower their employees and learn from them.
- Check their own biases and assess why they dislike a certain situation or group of people. Be aware of how these biases influence daily decision making.
On a final note, organizations have to work with employees hand-in-hand to change workplace attitudes and prejudices. It may be a long ride, but at the end of the day, beginning with awareness and open discussion on things like this is a huge step.
Need more employer and career advice? Head on to Bossjob’s blog archives!