Categories: HR & Employment Law | by admin

In a study of 500 employees, a whopping 49% of them reported some kind of bias in their work environment. As an HR leader striving for impartiality, this is a horrifying stat to read—but what if you were part of the problem and you didn’t even know it?

All people possess implicit biases, which wire our brain to categorize people and things subconsciously even when we actively try to reject prejudices. These can cause us to naturally favor those with similar interests and backgrounds.

While you’d certainly never give your work friends unfair perks or let them get away with inappropriate behavior, you may be unaware of the less drastic ways that your bias is showing. Here are some strategies for eliminating your own tendency to play favorites, so you can lead your company in a way that’s fair to everyone!


Take stock of your own biases.

The first step toward combating your biases is to uncover what they are. These biases can be rooted so deeply in your subconscious, you probably aren’t even aware of them or why you have them. Project Implicit provides IAT tests that uncover subconscious biases through a series of questions about different topics such as gender, age, and race. (Don’t beat yourself up over the results—these aren’t conscious biases!)


Rely on diverse teams.

Take a second look to make sure you always have a diverse team of people contributing input to ideas and policies, as this will only make the outcomes more inclusive. Working with other people that don’t look, think, or speak like you do forces you to move away from conformity and towards innovation. Studies have shown both inherent and acquired diversity within teams is associated with business success.


Use standardized tools to give the same rewards and consequences to everyone. Rather than relying on your gut, put processes in place that ensure equal punishment for equal misconduct. Create a plan that outlines punishments for specific actions and refer to it when there is a disciplinary issue, rather than making decisions on a case-by-case basis. This way, there is no chance that two employee will receive different consequences for the same behavior.

The same should apply to decision-making that favors employees. Make sure you and other team leaders assign projects and clients based on merit and performance stats—not because you like them or personally think they’re a good fit. When all employees are held to the same standards and have the same chance for opportunities regardless of personal friendships, there are no shortcuts to success.


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Artificial intelligence.

Although people will always be needed, artificial intelligence can successfully take some of the human pitfalls out of human resources. AI filters out irrelevant information that may cause a person to be prejudged, such as gender and ethnicity, and calculates the best decision objectively. This is especially effective during recruitment and hiring processes, making it easier to find the most qualified candidate, not the one you get along with best.


Find your common ground.

Try to make some kind of personal connection with the employees in your company. Being best friends with everyone is a conflict of interest for a HR pro, but connecting with someone beyond their job description is always worthwhile. Do you both have a dog? A daughter the same age? Like to cook? When you can relate to your employees, even in even a small way, you’re more likely to include them and their feelings in your decisions and policies—it’s human nature.


Continue training.

HR departments should constantly be learning, growing, and participating in training as industry trends change. In an ever-diversifying world, it’s your responsibility as an objective leader to reduce potential corporate liability by being up to speed with common practices. The more you practice making inclusive policies, the more successful they will be.

Now you’re ready to self-reflect and start working towards combating your own biases in the workplace. Your company and employees will thank you! If you need additional support, consult the experts.