Biases in the Workplace
Biases are prevalent in all aspects of life, but are especially prominent in the workplace. They affect our perception, attitude, behaviours and attention which in turn affects every decision we make. Workplace decisions such as hiring, promoting and delegating tasks are all affected by biases, whether conscious or unconscious. Some of the most common workplace biases are gender bias, affinity bias, and confirmation bias.
The most common gender bias is the favouritism of men — usually white, heterosexual men. According to builtin.com, 42% of women experience gender discrimination at work, both men and women are twice as likely to hire a male candidate, and men are 30% more likely to obtain managerial roles.
People tend to gravitate towards those who are similar to themselves. In the workplace that could lead to someone hiring or promoting a candidate who shares the same race or gender. This bias is especially detrimental to women and minorities as the person hiring or promoting is most likely a white male.
Harvard Business School defines confirmation bias as the human tendency to search for, favour, and use information that confirms one’s pre-existing views on a certain topic. Confirmation bias in the workplace is very common as people do not generally seek out information to contradict their opinions, which negatively affects diversity, creativity, and decision making.
How can companies combat workplace biases?
The first step to eliminating workplace bias is educating employees and implementing regular awareness training. Companies should also collect & analyze employee demographic and compensation data in order to identify any discrepancies which may have resulted from any biases in the process. A simple way to combat bias is to invest in tools that utilize automation or artificial intelligence in decision making. This allows for organizations to select the best employee based on documented and demonstrated successes- not personal prejudices. Using skills tracking software and real data ensures no biases come into play when making decisions in the workplace.