Let's Talk About Bias and Inclusion

In the United States, when we cross the street, we instinctively look to the left to check for oncoming traffic.  When US travelers visit London or one of the many other countries where drivers keep to the left side of the roads, often times they will look left and erroneously assume that no traffic is coming. 

In the United States, when we cross the street, we instinctively look to the left to check for oncoming traffic.  When US travelers visit London or one of the many other countries where drivers keep to the left side of the roads, often times they will look left and erroneously assume that no traffic is coming. 

Bias is not a bad worD

Unfortunately for progress, the word 'bias' (defined as a systematic error in thinking that can influence our behaviors) is connoted as a bad word.  Because of this connotation, many people are unwilling to acknowledge that they in fact have several biases, and in turn, are unable to learn from them.

We must first let go of the idea that bias = bad.  Then we must explore and acknowledge our own biases. THEN we can train ourselves to choose our behavior given the understanding of our biases.

We All have Biases

Bias is rooted in psychology, and it describes our natural ability to take past experiences, knowledge, or understanding and use them to form our worldview and preferences. Often times, we are unaware that our biases exist but if I ask you ten different times to sign your name, you will likely use the same hand each time.  If I were to ask you if you could sign with the other hand, you would like think or say, "no." But you can.  It may not look like what you want it to, but you can.  In this case, we have a bias (or preference) toward our dominant hand.

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Eric Bailey Featured on Like a Real Boss Podcast with Tiana Sanchez:
A New Conversation on Bias


 
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Diversity or Inclusion

Eric Bailey and Nicole Lance of Lance Strategies share the keynote stage at the 2017 Arizona Women Leading Government symposium.  

Not Diversity for Diversity's Sake

The phrase "we are diverse" permeates organizations across the world.  Unfortunately, many times, 'diversity' is a box to check, or a quota to hit.  This is not the point.  In fact several research studies indicate that an ethnically balanced organization performs significantly better than industry peers. 

include is a verb - Inclusion is Action

Not only is it important that we have diversity of experience and of thought represented in our teams, but it is important to actively include various people into conversation, decision-making, and information sharing.  The simple act of inclusion has powerful repercussions that can change the course of a career.