The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines bias as: an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially: a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment: prejudice.
bi-as: an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : prejudice
Biases can come in two forms: Personal and Organizational. Both types of biases can have a negative impact on building diverse and welcoming workplaces.
Personal bias is a person’s belief about a particular group of people, positive or negative. It can cause us to make incorrect assumptions about others based on our expectations about behaviour rather than on actual behaviour.
Biases often happen as a result of differences between people. For instance:
These differences need to be respected, where possible, and certainly not ignored.
How to Combat Personal Bias
The best way to start is to become aware of potential biases and make concerted efforts to understand and change them. Remember, bias can apply to any difference (for example, individuals with a disability or who speak a different language, sex, age, religious beliefs etc.) Here are some ideas to raise your awareness and help you combat personal bias:
6 Steps to Changing Personal Bias
In an organization bias is expressed when certain individuals are favored over others in decision-making. Biases can be found in the organization’s policies, processes and procedures and create barriers to people who do not fit into the dominant culture of the organization. These barriers are usually unintentional and are often based on well-intentioned HR policies and practices.
Discrimination in the Workplace
Organizational biases can result in two types of discrimination: Adverse Effect Discrimination and Systemic Discrimination. Both forms of discrimination are Human Rights issues. It is not acceptable from a human rights perspective for an organization to choose to remain unaware of systemic discrimination or to fail to act when a problem comes to its attention.
Adverse Effect Discrimination
Adverse effect discrimination is a result of a neutral employment rule, practice or policy that disadvantages an individual or a protected group. Some examples include:
Systemic discrimination arises as result of the rules, policies or practices that prevent equal employment opportunities for all people: namely how the organization recruits, hires, develops and promotes their employees. Organizations need to be aware that their “normal way of doing things” may be creating systemic discrimination.
Identifying and Remedying Systemic Barriers in Your Organization.
To increase diversity in your organization systemic biases need to be identified and systems need to be put in place to ensure that they are eliminated.
A good way to determine if your organization has biases is to compare the demographics of your workforce against local demographics. Check out the demographics for your community here: www.gov.ns.ca/finance/communitycounts/default.aspThere are many tools and resources throughout this website that can help you identify systemic barriers in your organization and assist you to design new policies and practices that account for individual differences in people. Start with the Organizational Bias Worksheet available to help you check your company for biases.
BUILD A STRONG HIRING PRACTICES PILLAR FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION: