Bias Impacts Diversity

“An integral part of helping employees thrive is creating a space where every individual feels they can bring their full selves to work.” Elden Seropean, Software Engineer and Team Leader

Companies today are recognizing the importance of diversity in their organizations. Study after study supports the importance of diversity, which includes diverse Boards, leadership and employees. All of the research shows with diversity comes increased financial returns.

However, having a diverse workplace doesn’t mean success unless along with diversity there is inclusion and equity. The three must work together. After hiring for diversity, the organization must ensure there are policies in place to address equity; equal treatment, access and opportunity for all. Only then will everyone feel a sense of inclusion; welcomed, supported, respected and valued. Diversity is only sustainable when the organization supports all three parts; diversity equity and inclusion.

Creating a diverse workplace can be a real challenge. The challenge has its roots in bias. Bias is something everyone uses to drive their decision making and to make sense of what is happening in the world. In the workplace, it impacts hiring, recruitment, and retention.

Research has identified that human behavior is driven by almost 200 different confirmation biases. When I say this, I’m not only referring to the types of bias you are familiar with such as race, gender, and age. I’m also talking about bias related to a person’s weight, the school they attended, where they grew up, how they dress, etc.

According to Wikipedia, bias is disproportionately weighted in favor of or against an idea or thing, usually in a way that is closed-mindedprejudicial, or unfair. Biases can be innate or learned. Some biases can lead to making positive and helpful decisions. For example, you might have a bias about eating healthy. Your bias will lead you to making wise food choices.

However, many biases are based on stereotypes rather than grounded in actual knowledge. Whether these biases appear to be positive or negative, they act as cognitive shortcuts. They are quick and easy ways to make a decision. They can also directly impact the success of an organization. You might not be hiring the best candidate or promoting the most capable employee. What you are doing is making ‘mental mistakes’ because your bias is impacting your actions and your thinking.

“When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become a wiser, more inclusive and better organization.” Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer for ServiceNow

If your goal is to create a more diverse organization, the first step is admitting you have biases and they are impacting both your actions and your thinking. It is crucial for all employees to understand their own biases and how they drive decision making within the organization. Bias is often linked to excessive reliance on your own intuition and the use of ineffective or defective reasoning? So, if you want your organization to be more diverse, start by having deep, open, and honest conversations about bias. Why? Because bias is a barrier to diversity, equity and inclusion within most organizations.

To discuss how I can be of support to your company or organization regarding customized D.I.&E trainings, please contact me at