Overcoming unconscious bias
Strategies to assist
Teams and work groups
• Value the contributions diverse work groups and decision making teams bring to the group.
• Recognise collective goals and cooperative activities help break down stereotypes of diverse groups.
• Manage group participation to ensure equity of all members, e.g.; Use ‘brain writing’ (instead of verbal brainstorming) where group members write down their ideas first before sharing them – ensures all ideas get heard and prevents anchoring or a few people dominating.
• Consider bringing in an independent viewpoint for a fresh perspective, particularly if you want to avoid group think.
• Acknowledge and appreciate a team member who takes a risk, offers a new idea, asks questions etc., especially where the team member is different or where other members may not share similar assumptions or experiences.
• Provide cross gender/race mentoring and sponsorship programmes.
• Consider anonymised screening (removing names and identifying features) of applications for scholarships, disciplinary reports, auditions, etc.
• Develop and/or use evidence based criteria and organisational guidelines and policies.
• Use varied decision making tools; Six Thinking Hats, SWAT and PEST Analysis, ethical decision making tools, decision making mind map, etc.
• Provide events which are accessible.
• Ensure conferences and panels have appropriate speaker gender balance.
• Encourage appropriate team training; e.g., recruitment and selection techniques, inclusive teaching and learning practices etc.
Recruitment and Selection
• Explore how the staffing profile can match the student/community profiles.
• Explore auditing the department’s staffing profile for Māori and equity group representation at each stage of the recruitment process; application-shortlist-interview-appointment, etc.
• Discuss a recruitment strategy that will increase successful applications from under-represented groups.
• Reassess job descriptions to ensure they are appropriate.
• Consider a range of ways of sourcing applicants, e.g.; discuss appropriate avenues with the groups that you want to attract (e.g., senior women in STEMM); advertise to relevant women’s/Māori/Pacific/disability organisations, associations, and networks; use personal contacts and shoulder tapping; promote the faculty/division/university at conferences and external meetings; use social networks, etc.
• Examine language used in communications such as job advertisements to remove exclusive language; consider analysis for inclusivity.
• Have diverse selection panels; particularly including representatives of groups from which a range of applicants may apply.
• Use structured processes and objective pre-determined criteria in short-listing and assessing applicants; consider a data matrix to objectively measure evidence against criteria.
• Be aware of potential biases such as affinity, anchoring, confirmation and attribution biases.
• Avoid hearsay.
• Benchmark the job itself and not the people who have done the job previously.
• Ask questions and counter-factual questions particularly to generalised or qualitative statements and to avoid group think or dominating personalities, e.g. “how does Applicant A not fit?”
• Consider a variety of approaches to structuring course content and design that best suits the student population.
• Search for and provide to students, research and information from diverse sources including gender diverse, Māori, Pacific and Asian perspectives to avoid curricula being male focussed or euro-centric.
• Consider if Māori and Pacific issues are presented as a deficit model and if so ways in which this can be addressed.
• Use inclusive teaching and learning practices recognising different thinking styles and learning needs.
• Use universal design principles in creating and delivering teaching and learning resources and environments e.g. use captioned videos, provide information in a variety of formats.
• Provide diverse role models and opportunities for student interaction; e.g., female lecturers in male dominated areas.
• Ensure effective classroom/group dynamics, e.g., allowing only one person at a time to speak, affirming contributions, promoting respectful communication and encouraging and acknowledging diverse opinions and world views.
• Consider marginalised students, making sure they are able to speak and ask questions – in a safe environment.
• Set clear objective criteria before setting and marking assignments or assessments, and stick to it.
• Explore removing identifiers from assignments when marking or using inter-rater ratings.
• Become aware of one’s own biases; reflect on personal associations and interactions; analyse decision making practices and outcomes; undertake the IAT; ask others to give feedback.
• Before making judgements or decisions about people – particularly those who are different from yourself – consider the situation from their perspective; how would they be experiencing the situation; what are their circumstances and situation.
• Be conscious of the words and physical reactions that surface in interactions with others.
• Actively seek out and engage with diverse people.
• Practice creating more positive behaviours such as micro-affirmations to interrupt bias.
• Be an ethical and active bystander; speak out if a colleague’s contribution may be ignored or misappropriated unfairly, call out sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism, ableism, discrimination, harassment, condescension and bias.
• Be curious of differing opinions and explore differences.
• 'Talk up' achievements of minority group members.
• Refer to evidence rather than hearsay.
• Look for ways to challenge what you think and see; consider other explanations.
• Become informed about minority group workplace issues.
• Use thought and change processes and habit breaking.
interventions to guide decisions towards more objectivity, e.g.:
Thinking slow strategies
Using decision making tools
Stereotype replacement and counter stereotypic imaging
Reframing and perspective taking
Question first impressions
Challenge un-reflected exclusion.
See Resources and References for more ideas