Want to address implicit bias in your organization but not exactly sure where to start? Whether you found out bias exists through an unfortunate claim or lawsuit, or through being proactive and having an Implicit Bias Audit done, I’m here to help you figure out the next steps for mitigating your risks and putting a audacious action plan in place to eliminate bias for good.
As a side note, if you haven’t had an Implicit Bias Audit done to pinpoint where bias may be lurking in your company, that’s where I recommend beginning. The audit helps you to determine the specific type, location, and severity of bias that exists, so you know exactly what you’re up against. But for now, I’m assuming you know what you’re up against.
Sometimes it can feel overwhelming not knowing where to begin tackling an organizational issue like implicit bias. Breaking the problem down into workable pieces can help. I like to start with a SWOT analysis. It’s a great tool for identifying where to focus first. With priorities placed on anything in the Threats category, we’re ready to put a plan together. The focus here is on maintaining the organization’s core values while creating a targeted strategy that will move your organization where you want (or need) it to be in terms of eliminating bias.
Begin with creating a detailed strategic plan that includes metrics to know that you are eliminating bias and that encompasses tactics to address change management fears. And then, align with leadership to ensure you have support from the top. Let’s take a look at how to put this awesome bias busting strategy together.
1. Create an Education & Awareness Roadmap
Every organization is different and depending on the type, location, and severity of bias, you will need to create a roadmap for how you intend to address problem areas. This will also help you mitigate risks by showing your organization is being proactive in addressing issues.
What I’ve found works well is to build a foundation of awareness and honest communication through the workshop and eLearning series Diversity @ Work. This program is very impactful and forces participants to really evaluate their inner thoughts and biases along with creating a personal inventory of how each one of us can make a difference in creating a culture of inclusion.
It’s important to point out that building education and awareness is not wrapped up in a neat little package as a one and done event. For your strategy to make a real impact, it must be a continuous effort.
When implementing this workshop series, it’s a good idea to follow up with supplemental online learning and independent assignments or discussions. It’s also important to incorporate your diversity and inclusion programs in your new hire orientation and leadership training to ensure there is a constant and consistent message throughout all levels of the organization. The critical component to your strategy is focusing on how to bring awareness to the forefront and ingraining it into the company culture.
As a Six Sigma Black Belt, I’m a big believer in metrics and know that real changes comes when it is measured. This can be easily accomplished through learning assessments and utilizing the Implicit Bias Audit before and after training to see where awareness, attitudes, and behaviors have changed.
2. Include Change Management
Change management is a frequently overlooked component of culture-changing strategies. The education and awareness roadmap, if implemented correctly, will lead to changes in attitudes and behaviors; and change is not always easy. I’ve worked in organizations that have implemented large scale initiatives intended to make significant culture changes only to have these programs viewed as a “flavor of the month” because the strategy didn’t consider getting employee buy-in. There has to be a component of your strategy that addresses why it’s important to them. And just saying you’re doing this to have a more diverse and inclusive workplace and spouting off the benefits isn’t where you are going to get employees excited about change.
Here it can be super beneficial to partner with a vendor like FUEL it to recommend and develop a change management program that complements your education and awareness roadmap. This can be especially helpful when you already have a full plate and there aren’t enough hours in the day to implement and monitor a scaled program strategy. Plus, an organization outsider won’t take internal norms for granted and can help with defining what’s important to your employees while crafting the right message and programs that will drive real change.
3. Align with Leadership
Lack of leadership alignment is one of the biggest failure points I’ve seen when trying to implement a program strategy. This happens when the leadership team has their clear vision and goals, and they don’t understand how your program strategy fits in with theirs. If you are out of sync here, I recommend taking a step back and considering alternatives. I’ve worked with groups before that had a clear strategy mapped out, but didn’t have leadership buy in. So, the program went nowhere.
Here are some tips on how to align with leadership:
Start with the type, location, and severity of bias that is present in the organization. Present a summary of the Implicit Bias Audit findings or other facts that have led you to the decision and need for action.
Discuss programs and initiatives that have been implemented prior to the audit or discovery and where there are areas for opportunity to improve along with the benefits of improving.
And don’t just focus on the negatives either but make sure to highlight the positive results too. For example, if you have implemented a pilot solution that has made an impact, be sure to show the evidence and positive results.
Set business context and speak in terms of how the strategy supports business results; through things like efficiency in spending, higher retention rates which means more productivity, and so on. The key here is to show how your program strategy will help them achieve theirs.
Finally, be sure to update leadership monthly on program implementation and success. If you don’t have regular updates, you will risk getting out of sync and loosing support.
Time and again it has been proven that a diverse and inclusive workplace leads to better results, reduced turnover, increased innovation, and improved problem-solving. By following these steps and armed with an awesome bias busting strategy, you’re ready to take charge and make your organization a place where everyone will want to work!
Creating and implementing a strategy to eliminate bias in your organization is no easy task. If it was, every workplace would have tackled this problem already. If you are not sure where to start, or lack the time and resources to make it happen, consider partnering with FUEL it to customize a strategy and plan that will make difference in your organization.
If you would like to learn more about the Diversity @ Work workshop and eLearning series or our other supplemental programs that support diversity and inclusion efforts, give us a call at 888-383-5488 or go to our website at https://www.fuelit.us/implicitbias.