How Leaders Preserve Bias & How to Stop | #Leadership

Leaders preserve bias and that blocks their efforts to be inclusive of all the talents hired. How do they do this? How can they stop?

Inclusiveness expert, Dr. Helen Turnbull, describes the inclusiveness paradox and implicit bias in this great Ted talk. Listen as she provides such clear examples of how affinity bias drives people to include those like them, value them more, and exclude others. From there you can easily see how leaders unfairly offer better opportunities to those like them. Meanwhile, all humans have the same need to be included. This is the paradox.

How Leaders Preserve Bias & How to Stop

Leaders preserve bias when they don’t examine their minds, see their blind spots, challenge how they think, and change how they act. They can however overcome the strong desire for congruence, stop discriminating, and be fair and inclusive.

  • Assess how you are doing on bias and inclusion. Take Dr. Turnbull’s Inclusion Skills Measurement.
  • Reflect on when you have been the target of bias and discrimination. Don’t make excuses for it or deny that it’s happened. You are more likely to question your own bias if you remember how it feels to be excluded.
  • Now examine your own implicit biases. Don’t feel guilty. Admit what you need to change. If you deny it, you may spread the myth that bias doesn’t exist. You will claim that people just need to work hard to achieve their goals. This is how leaders preserve bias!

Leaders preserve bias: Image is a mass of identical circles.

Leaders preserve bias through their implicit desire for congruence. Image by David Woo via Flickr.

Image via David Woo via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Leaders preserve bias by not challenging their own bias and the biases in the workplace. Yet as Dr. Turnbull quips: “The unchallenged brain is not to be trusted.” Challenge your brain and your biases.

Does your language reveal your bias? Are you still using the word “he” and “man” to mean everyone? This male dominant bias excludes half the people in the world. To fix this, use the word “they” or “s/he” or “human” to be more inclusive. It declares that every person matters — not just men.

Examine the culture that you lead. Is it skewed toward one gender as the norm? Women often are marginalized in and driven away from the tech industry by a highly male dominate culture. What about travel assignments? Are you also marginalizing women from important positions that require travel and justifying it based on some claim of safety? What about racial bias and discrimination? Is your workplace culture skewed toward one race as the norm? Racial discrimination is still rampant and you can help fix it. Actively recruit and hire to have a multi-racial workforce.

  1. Stop assuming everything’s OK. Leaders preserve bias through passive acceptance of the status quo.
  2. Take active steps to question what needs to change and to change it. Review employee compensation. Women still make less then men for the same work.
  3. Offer inclusiveness training to your entire organization. Make inclusiveness the culture to eradicate implicit bias.

Leaders who do little or nothing to create inclusive work culture preserve bias. Don’t be one of them!

What leadership inclusive success have you seen or had?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Post:
Leadership People Skills: Inclusion Engages

©2016 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.


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