BIAS INTERRUPTERS

Tools for Individuals

Incremental steps that improve diversity in your organization can yield large gains. Diverse work groups perform better and are more committed, innovative and loyal. Gender diverse workgroups have better collective intelligence, which improves performance by the group and its members, leading to better financial performance. Racially diverse workgroups consider a broader range of alternatives, make better decisions, and are better at solving problems. If left unchecked, bias may impact people along many dimensions of identity: gender identity, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability status, class status, and even introversion or modesty. We’ve distilled the huge literature on bias into simple steps that help you and your company perform better.

 

Bias Interrupters should be implemented at an organizational level. But there are steps you can take to address bias at your workplace.

THE CHALLENGE

A recent study of performance evaluations in tech found that 66% of women’s performance reviews contained negative personality criticism (“You come off as abrasive”) whereas only 1% of men’s reviews did.(1)  We know now that workplaces that view themselves as being highly meritocratic often are, in fact, more biased than other organizations (2) and that the usual responses—one-shot diversity trainings, mentoring and networking programs—typically don’t work.(3)

THE SOLUTION

Bias Interrupters are tweaks to basic business systems that can yield large gains: Organizational Bias Interrupters change existing business systems; Individual Bias Interrupters are steps individuals can take on their own.

BIAS INTERRUPTERS

1. Learn how to spot bias by using our Identifying Bias in Performance Evaluations Guide which summarizes hundreds of studies, and encourage others to do the same.

The Center for WorkLife Law conducted an experiment with Dr. Monica Biernat at the University of Kansas examining the effects of reading our Identifying Bias in Performance Evaluations Guide. Participants completed reviews for hypothetical employees. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to a group that read the Bias Guide and listened to a brief audio recording summarizing the main messages; the other half received no further instructions.

Our findings indicate that reading the toolkit lead participants to give higher ratings, monetary bonuses and promotion recommendations for both women and Black workers.

Before completing your next round of performance evaluations watch this short 2 minute video and read the Identifying Bias in Performance Evaluations Guide. 

2. Self-promote effectively by using our Writing an Effective Self Evaluation Worksheet, and handing it out to your reports (if you have them). If you are a manager, don’t rely exclusively on self-promotion to share successes within your department. Set up more formal systems for sharing successes, such as a weekly or monthly email that lists employees’ accomplishments. Be sure that these accomplishments are factored into evaluations.

3. Give everyone honest feedback. Make sure you give honest feedback to everyone who is evaluated— otherwise some groups won’t get notice of problems in time to correct them.

4. Persuade your organization to use Bias Interrupters: small changes to basic business systems—from hiring, to performance evaluations, to compensation—that can help correct bias and improve performance. Use our talking points to persuade your company.

5. Take the Bias Interrupter Training so you can identify and interrupt bias in your workplace.

RESOURCES

Footnotes

1. Snyder, 20142. Castilla, 20153. Kalev, Dobbin, & Kelly, 2006

For the full citations, download our bibliography.

THE CHALLENGE

When comparing identical resumes “Jamal” needed eight additional years of experiences to be considered as qualified as “Greg,” and “Jennifer” was offered $4,000 less in starting salary than “John.”(1)We know now that workplaces that view themselves as being highly meritocratic often are, in fact more biased than other organizations (2) and that the usual responses—one-shot diversity trainings, mentoring and networking programs—typically don’t work.(3)

THE SOLUTION

Bias Interrupters are tweaks to basic business systems that can yield large gains. Organizational Bias Interrupters change existing business systems; Individual Bias Interrupters are steps individuals can take on their own.

BIAS INTERRUPTERS

1. Learn how to spot bias by using our Identifying Bias in Hiring Guide which summarizes hundreds of studies, and encourage others to do the same.

2. If you are hiring, reach out beyond your own networks. If your existing organization is not diverse, hiring from your current employees’ social networks will replicate the lack of diversity.

3. If you are working with a recruiter, let them know you want a diverse pool. If the initial pool is largely homogenous, it is statistically unlikely that you will hire a diverse candidate.(4)

4.Read this toolkit prior to conducting interviews. The law firm Ice Miller LLP created this Attorney Interview toolkit to interrupt common forms of bias in their interview process. This toolkit will equip you with the materials to evaluate candidates based on their knowledge, skills and abilities pertaining to the position and minimizes the risks of unexamined bias influencing your decision-making.

5. Be mindful of optics. If your organization is homogeneous, candidates who are different may worry whether they will fit in. The Airbnb data science team countered this by making sure that women made up at least half of the interview panel for job candidates.

6. Take the Bias Interrupter Training so you can identify and address bias in your workplace.

7. Persuade your organization to use Bias Interrupters: small changes to basic business systems—from hiring to performance evaluations to compensation—can help correct bias and improve performance. Use our talking points to persuade your company.

RESOURCES

Footnotes

1. Bertrand & Mullainathan, 2004; Moss-Racusin, Dovidio, Brescoll, Graham, & Handelsman, 20122. Castilla, 20153. Kalev, Dobbin, & Kelly, 2006

4. Johnson, Hekman, & Chan, 2016

For the full citations, download our bibliography.

Center for WorkLife Law. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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