Overcoming workplace bias to ensure Diversity & Inclusion

Overcoming workplace bias to ensure Diversity & Inclusion

Deloitte’s 2019 State of Inclusion Survey indicates that nearly 64% of the 3000 individuals surveyed felt that they had experienced workplace bias in the past year. Even though organizations have made progress in making them more inclusive, many of these people believe there is still bias present. Considering that bias is the most significant obstacle to achieving diversity and inclusion in organizations, this statistic is particularly disturbing. 

As a result, strategies for overcoming unconscious biases are of even greater importance. While self-awareness and understanding of one’s biases are the first steps in overcoming biases, they are sometimes so deeply ingrained that awareness and training alone are not sufficient. However, training remains the most effective means of overcoming biases. People from various levels of organizations and hierarchies require training to overcome their biases. 

In light of this, strategies for overcoming unconscious biases are of even greater importance. However, a single training event is inadequate. Biases must be overcome by a paradigm shift in mindset, which requires continuous reinforcement through training and leadership activities. 

An individual training event, however, is not sufficient. However, since unconscious bias is deeply ingrained, it is important to examine every step in the employee life cycle so that processes and systems can be in place in order to help overcome this bias. 


Employees have their first interaction with the organization during this phase. In the hiring process, bias is well known. There are often affinity biases, halo effects, and conformity biases at work. 

An employee’s first interaction with the organization occurs during this phase. An employee’s first interaction with the organization occurs during this phase. Here are some ways to make the recruitment process bias-free: 

Job descriptions should be made free of bias by eliminating gender, age, and ability-related specific requirements. 

To provide a diverse pool of talent to an organization, it is important to source candidates from a variety of institutions. 

Use blind resumes for the initial screening process in order to prevent biases related to age, gender, ability, region, race, etc. 

In order to eliminate biases, use technology such as artificial intelligence for initial screening. Nonetheless, technology must be used cautiously, as data that is the primary basis for AI decision-making can be biased in the first place. 

Provide training to recruiters and hiring managers on how to become aware of their own biases and how to manage them. 

As part of the interview process, use standardized questions that are not biased, e.g. asking the candidate’s marital status 

The hiring process will be more diverse if there is a diverse interview panel rather than a single person or a group of similar people making the hiring decision. 

Another method for preventing bias is to use valid and reliable psychometric assessments. Psychometric assessments consider only the capabilities of an individual and not gender, sexual orientation, age, etc. However, it is imperative that these assessments are interpreted by trained professionals since studying human behavior is a complex science. 


After a candidate becomes a member of the organization, everyday inclusion becomes increasingly important. Every employee should have equal opportunities for development and growth. This can only be achieved through equity. Equitable practices ensure that every employee has the resources they require based on their individual requirements in order to reap the benefits of equal opportunity. Providing a parent of a young child with work-from-home opportunities is an example of equity, but ensuring that they have equal opportunities for development and project development is equality. Equality and equity are complementary concepts. 

The following areas should be considered in order to eliminate bias during development: 

Implement a competency-based approach to development since competencies eliminate the need for subjective decisions by managers. 

An analysis of developing diversity data related to learning and development is required to ensure that all diverse groups benefit from learning initiatives. 

Ensure that learning is accessible to all. Inclusion of the differently-abled is particularly important. Their educational needs should be considered when designing learning interventions. 

Managers should be able to provide mentoring and coaching to all employees. This is a slightly more challenging area to address and requires managers to be trained on how to engage in inclusive behaviors. 


It is important to include this step in the employee life cycle. To retain employees, they must feel engaged on a daily basis. Engagement is a result of the organization’s processes being inclusive. 

Here are some ways to accomplish this: 

Managers should be thoroughly trained to ensure that the workplace environment is an inclusive one for all employees. Avoid subtle biases such as managers spending more time with team members of the same gender. 

The organization should encourage and train its employees to use inclusive language and have a zero-tolerance policy toward bullying or harassment. Most biases are manifested through language, and it is, therefore, crucial to address them. 

The use of employee resource groups is another way to eliminate bias and create a climate of inclusion in the workplace. The purpose of these groups is to provide a forum for diverse groups to discuss and share challenges and experiences. Best practices recommend keeping these groups open to all while focusing on a specific diverse group. 

The concept of allyship can also be used to eliminate bias and make a workplace more inclusive. A strong network of allies ensures that informal interactions are more inclusive and free from bias. Allies ensure that simple things such as water cooler conversations do not exclude or degrade particular groups. 

Establish a strong psychological contract. This is an implicit understanding that everyone will be treated fairly and honestly. Contributions will be recognized without regard to personal biases such as likeability and affinity. 

Ensure that policies and processes are free of bias. The leave and travel policies, benefits, and policies relating to work from home and flexibility should be examined closely so as not to leave out any of the diverse groups within the organization. It is imperative that D&I Champions work closely with the business and leadership to ensure all policies and practices are aligned with the organization’s D&I objectives. 

It is an ongoing and continuous effort to ensure that biases do not negatively affect the employee experience. Training employees on biases and ensuring that processes and policies are bias-free is key to achieving a truly bias-free workplace. 

Contact us if you are interested in a diversity and inclusion program that is tailored to the needs of your organization or team.