Overcoming unconscious bias

Strategies to assist

Teams

  • Provide diverse role models and messages in communications and images
  • Ensure diverse work and decision making teams
  • Emphasise collective goals and cooperative activities
  • 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; pay equity in starting salaries; representation of Māori and equity group’s conference attendance; Māori and equity group representation at each stage of the application/shortlist/interview/appointment process, etc.
  • Examine language used in communications such as job advertisements to remove exclusive language; consider using a gender decoder
  • Ensure diverse selection panels
  • Panels to use structured processes, objective pre-determined criteria and assessment methods
  • Avoid here-say
  • Benchmark the job itself and not the people who have done the job.
  • Consider counter-factual questions particularly to generalised or qualitative statements and to avoid group think, eg “how does Applicant A not fit?”
  • Be aware of potential biases such as affinity, anchoring, confirmation and attribution biases 
  • Consider fairly non-traditional career paths, work patterns, and different ways of doing a job
  • Consider anonymised screening of CV’s for shortlisting
  • Take time in decision making and reflect before rushing into judgements
  • Consider short-listing all women in proportion to their application rates in STEMM areas

Teaching

  • Use inclusive teaching and learning practices accommodating different learning styles
  • 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
  • Search for and provide to students, research and information from diverse sources including Māori, Pacific and Asian perspectives to avoid curricula being euro-centric
  • Consider if Māori and Pacific issues are presented as a deficit model and if so ways this can be addressed

Personal

  • Become aware of own possible biases; reflect on personal associations and interactions; analyse decision making practices and outcomes; undertake the IAT; ask others to give feedback 
  • 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
  • Acknowledge and appreciate a team member who takes a risk, offers a new idea, asks a question etc., especially where the team member is different or where other members may not share similar assumptions or experiences
  • Be curious of differing opinions and explore differences
  • Refer to evidence rather than hear-say
  • 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.

Further information

See Resources and References for more ideas