Invisible Influence: Addressing Unconscious Bias with Coaching

octobre 30, 2023 | Diversity & Inclusion | 5 min read

In a world that's beautifully diverse and intricately woven together, bias can often act as a blindfold, obscuring our ability to truly see and appreciate everything around us. Unconscious bias, subtle yet potent, has a sneaky way of creeping into our perceptions and actions, often without us even realizing it.

Unconscious stereotypes or attitudes about certain groups of people that can affect our behavior towards them can deeply impact workplace culture. Most people are unaware of their implicit biases and how these may impact their decision-making process, especially in the workplace. They can, unfortunately, lead to discrimination, lack of diversity, unequal opportunities, and a toxic work environment. So, it's vital to recognize your unconscious biases and the different ways they impact those around you.

How Unconscious Bias Infiltrates the Workplace

Unconscious bias in the workplace is a pervasive issue that can manifest in various ways, often subtly influencing decisions and interactions without conscious awareness. These biases, based on stereotypes and attitudes towards certain groups, can negatively impact hiring, promotion, performance evaluation, and team dynamics.

  • Talent Recruitment Unconscious bias can often present itself during the recruitment process. For instance, a hiring manager might unconsciously favor candidates who graduated from their alma mater or who share similar backgrounds, inadvertently creating an uneven playing field. Harvard Business School emphasizes that unconscious bias and affinity bias often express themselves as a preference for one candidate or another because of culture fit. This bias can often limit diversity and inclusion within the organization.

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  • Gender Stereotypes Despite strides made towards equality, unconscious assumptions about gender roles persist. For example, women are often stereotyped as nurturing and less assertive, which can lead to them being overlooked for leadership roles. On the other hand, men may face bias when seeking roles traditionally dominated by women or when requesting parental leave. Learn more about how women face bias in the workplace.
  • Racial Bias Racial bias is yet another form of implicit bias that can occur in the workplace. Employees of certain racial or ethnic groups may be unfairly evaluated or treated differently due to preconceived notions about their abilities or work ethics. This can result in a lack of opportunities for career advancement for these individuals. Read more on racial bias in the workplace.

Working to counter your unconscious biases is something that, although it takes an effort, will help build better relationships and contribute to a psychologically safe work environment for everyone.

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Understanding Your Disposition to Difference

Your personal disposition towards difference is crucial in the workplace as it directly influences how you perceive, react to, and value the unique perspectives that a diverse team brings.

Foster a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusion. Encourage diverse viewpoints in team discussions and decision-making processes. Create opportunities for individuals from different backgrounds to lead projects or initiatives. Promoting diversity and inclusion will not only reduce bias but also foster innovation and creativity.

By recognizing and appreciating differences, individuals can contribute to a positive organizational culture that promotes innovation and productivity. Thus, understanding one's disposition to difference is not just important, but essential for workplace harmony and success.

Begin to Understand Your Intrinsic Motivations

Understanding and combating implicit biases in the workplace is a critical aspect of fostering an inclusive and productive environment. Self-awareness plays a pivotal role in this process. Why? Because only when we recognize our own subconscious biases, can we begin to challenge and change them.

Harvard Business Review research shows that individuals with high self-awareness are more likely to acknowledge their biases, leading to more equitable decision-making. By becoming more self-aware, employees not only become better equipped to confront their own biases but also contribute more effectively to their teams and the overall organization.

In essence, self-awareness is not just about knowing ourselves better; it's about understanding how our actions and attitudes impact those around us. So, are you ready to take the first step towards a bias-free workplace? Remember, change begins with awareness.

Continuous Learning, Continuous Empathy: Your Armor Against Bias

Actively educate yourself about different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. This can be done through reading, attending workshops or seminars, or engaging in conversations with diverse groups of people. By broadening your perspective, you can challenge and change your preconceived notions. Remember, learning about diversity and inclusion is an ongoing process, not a one-time event.

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is a powerful tool against bias. Try to see situations from others' perspectives. Active listening involves fully focusing on, understanding, and responding to your colleagues, which can help break down barriers and assumptions.

How Coaching Can Help

Coaching can be instrumental in fostering understanding and acceptance of individuals from different backgrounds. According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, companies with above-average diversity on their management teams reported innovation revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity. This demonstrates that fostering diversity can lead to greater innovation.

In addition, DEI coaching helps individuals uncover and combat their unconscious biases, which according to a report by Deloitte, are significant barriers to diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. By promoting self-awareness and empathy, DEI coaching helps create a more inclusive work environment.

Furthermore, a McKinsey report found that companies with the most ethnically/culturally diverse boards worldwide are 43% more likely to experience higher profits. This suggests that a diverse and inclusive workplace is not just socially responsible, but it also has a direct impact on a company's bottom line. Thus, DEI coaching is not only crucial for personal growth and understanding but also contributes significantly to the overall success of an organization.

By integrating these strategies, you’ll aid individuals in recognizing, confronting, and overcoming their implicit biases which not only contributes to personal growth but also promotes a more inclusive and equitable workplace environment.

Want to hear more about my experience as a DEI coach? Watch my episode of the Coaching Corner