How to interrupt unconscious bias

I loved the below thought about interrupting unconscious bias. It was a post from Oxford Leadership, but based on a longer article from Harvard Business Review, which is also worth a read.

Although unconscious bias is hard to eliminate, it is not as challenging to interrupt.

Managers can be natural leaders by interrupting their and their team’s patterns and behaviours in a few ways. But how can you, as an individual leader, ensure your team includes and makes the most of diverse voices?

Can one person fix what an entire organisation can’t?

The first step is to understand the four distinct ways bias plays out in everyday work interactions:

  1. Prove it again: Some groups have to prove themselves more than others.
  2. Tightrope: A narrower range of behaviours is accepted by some groups than by others.
  3. Maternal wall: Women with children see their commitment and competence questioned or face disapproval for being too career-focused.
  4. Tug-of-war: Disadvantaged groups find themselves pitted against one another because of differing strategies for assimilating—or refusing to do so.

There are more ways mentioned on the inforgraphic (above) and these are worth noting.

Here are four simple actions that will yield the best candidates by eliminating artificial advantages:

  • Insist on a diverse pool.
  • Establish objective criteria, define “culture fit,” and demand accountability.
  • Limit referral hiring.
  • Structure interviews with skills-based questions.

The second step:

Recognise when and where these forms of bias arise day-to-day. Without an organisational directive, it’s easy to let them go unaddressed. But, unfortunately, you can’t be a great manager without becoming a bias interrupter.

A really great article and worthwhile for all organisations, teams and leaders.



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