According to Wikipedia, a bias is a tendency to lean in a certain direction, either in favor of or against a particular thing, person, situation, etc. According to this definition, to be biased means to lack an objective viewpoint on a particular topic. If you’re biased toward something, then you lean favorably toward it; you tend to think positively of it. If you do not lean towards it, you are biased against it and tend to react negatively. We all have biases towards a variety of circumstances in life. These can be events, people, situations, religions, genders, and the list can go on and on.
So how does this show up in an organization? Does this inhibit the performance of people? How can you recognize your own bias towards certain circumstances, people, or events? What can we do to not perpetuate these behaviors and generate a culture of inclusivity and high performance?
First of all, start by looking at your own patterns. Do you tend to only work with the same people in your organization? As a leader, do you lean into the individuals that have more experience and have been in the company the longest? When you have an important project, do you put the same teams of people together to work on special projects? How do new members get integrated into the organization and how are their viewpoints heard and acknowledged?
Second, consider that sometimes patterns exist because that is the way it’s always been done. This doesn’t mean it is right or wrong, it is just the way it’s always been done. These subtle biases can leave people thinking that they are being inappropriately left out of a project or their opinion is not regarded. Finally, act, communicate authentically, and keep moving the action forward. Ultimately, the actions are the ones that will shift the behaviors.