workplace transformation

3 Ways To #Breakthebias In The Workplace

Women’s History Month is the time to “celebrate the contributions and recognize the specific achievements women have made throughout the course of American history.”  

This year’s theme, “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” is both a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during this ongoing pandemic and a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.”   

Teaming this message with the International Women’s Day theme #BreakTheBias, here are 3 ways to promote healing and hope while disrupting workplace bias for women.

Awareness Makes The Difference

Most people think of a bias as a negative thought or action, but most biases are unconscious or implicit. Unconscious biases impact the workplace at all levels from who gets interviewed to hiring and promotions in an organization.

Unconscious attitudes and stereotypes can be related to a person’s race, height, weight, accent, gender, age, sexual orientation, tattoos or piercings, religion, socioeconomic status, physical disability, and political affiliation. There are more than 150 unconscious bias types, and they are often based on stereotypes, inaccurate or incomplete information.  Having an unconscious bias doesn’t make you a bad person, your brain is just wired that way.

Unconscious Bias And The Bottom Line

While some progress has been made in the workplace with gender equality, pay gaps, and representation; in the 2021 Women in the Workplace report, revealed various issues women are experiencing. 

Unconscious biases impact the ability of organizations to be effective in their culture and have an impact on the success of employee morale. No matter the company, bias exists among your employees in one form or another. Here are some examples of how it impacts the bottom line:

  • “Good or well-meaning” people engage in behaviors that they aren’t aware of.
  • Employees who feel isolated or alienated feel unengaged and disconnected.
  • Increase in absenteeism, accidents, and stress related illnesses.
  • Resumes with ethnic sounding names are less likely to get callbacks for interviews, thus increasing representation.

Research shows it can take the brain 3-4 hours to get rid of stress hormones. Each time an employee feels discriminated against or experiences unconscious bias, these emotions resurface. As a result, it can lead to millions in losses each year.

While the effect of unconscious bias from the bottom up is significant, it also impacts organizations from the top down in lawsuits and reputational damage, which can hinder an organization’s ability to execute its business.

Breaking the Bias for Future Success

Many business leaders have made it clear that employee wellness is a top priority as they seek to attract and retain employees during the Great Resignation.

 An organization’s success is closely tied to their worker’s performance, innovation, and engagement. But efforts to address biases in the workplace are typically disconnected from those aimed at supporting employee health and wellness.

Women’s History Month is an excellent time to reflect upon ways to become more aware of these unconscious bias, so more women are empowered in the workplace.

Monique Roberts
Monique Roberts
Monique enjoys traveling, photography, and connecting with Udacity students around the world in addition to writing about digital transformation, career upskilling, and innovative technologies.