Overcoming Workplace Bias

June 17, 2020

Overcoming Workplace Bias

In these days of high emotion and polarization, it's hard to know how or even whether to address the feelings of anger, despair or frustration that may be percolating among employees at the workplace. But it would be a mistake for company leaders and managers to stay silent, said Eric Ellis, a longtime consultant on diversity and inclusion.

Today's crises have frayed nerves and opened wounds.

"None of us is unaffected by this," said Ellis, president and chief executive officer of Integrity Development Corporation in Cincinnati. He advised companies to have a plan for managers to de-escalate conflict and build common ground. "If we don't prepare our people to have this conversation, we're leaving ourselves open to micro-explosions."

What is called for is empathetic support, with conversations guided by the "core values that companies adopt and post but are at times challenged to live," he said.

"A neutral leadership style is not very helpful during a crisis. Organizational leaders must assess their personal beliefs and feelings first and then expand beyond them. The most effective leaders find ways to support employees who have perspectives that differ from their own."

Available Resources

All workers have the right to equal opportunity in employment, free from discrimination, prejudice and bias. Encompassing more than legal compliance, HR’s role in equal opportunity at work has the capacity to change lives and society. SHRM’s Executive Network, HR People + Strategy, is providing resources to help navigate this crucial work. 

Psychological literature offers guidance on how to have these conversations. SHRM’s Chief Knowledge Officer Alexander Alonso, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, offers 5 techniques

Inclusive Leadership

Taking action on bias and inclusion is now more common, yet demographics of leadership positions in most organizations remain unchanged. How can those with power use that ability to initiate and sustain change? This is a business problem that HR executives are uniquely positioned to address. Learn more from the Winter 2020 issue of People + Strategy

Inclusive Workplaces

To get workplace diversity and inclusion right, you need to build a culture where everyone feels valued and heard. Here are 6 steps to start building an inclusive workplace

Inclusion encompasses many aspects and categories. Recent changes in LGBTQ protections mean that companies need to update policies and training

The Authors: 

Deborah Stadtler is Managing Editor at SHRM’s Executive Network, HR People + Strategy.