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Notes on Bias Mitigation Strategies from January "Minimizing Implicit Bias" Presentation

    February 12, 2019

    Bias Mitigation – Solutions

    Confirmation Bias – Have a beginner’s mind. Constantly curious. Question everything – no more “like we’ve always done it”. Make an informed guess, experiment, and evaluated and adjust based on findings. Embrace surprises.

    Similarity & Proximity Bias - Develop pipelines for diverse leads: consider how you advertise & meet people where they are. Can’t recruit who you don’t know – build relationships across social groups. Fair Interviewing practices for non-local applicants.

    Affinity Bias – Consider the assumptions and unspoken rules and expectations that come along with “workplace fit”. Identify affinities in your org (is everyone from the same state, school, etc). Evaluate the makeup of teams and make them less homogenous.

    Expediency Bias – create processes which allow for consideration of all info. Break tasks into chunks or steps. Reward people for finding errors and taking careful consideration. Removed distractions.

    Availability Heuristic – evaluate what information is most readily available. Collect the same information from every candidate. Determine if you are weighing negatives more heavily than positives.

    Blindspot Bias – Don’t let decisions be made unilaterally. Use teams and panels so you can watch each other’s backs for bias.

    Anchoring Bias – Decisions aren’t made in a vacuum. Recognize that information and contexts may be affecting your decisions.

    Attribution Bias – practice giving people the benefit of the doubt and considering the context/situation, rather than assuming it is a personal failing.

    Halo/Beauty/Reverse Halo/Horns – Be aware if you are letting one piece of information color your perspective above other information. Watch for assumptions that might creep in.

    Social Desirability & Conformity Bias – Add diversity in experience, identities, and expertise. 10th man principal: if 9 agree, it is the 10th person’s job to dissent and consider alternatives.

    Personal Solutions

    Suppression (telling people to not be biased) doesn’t work - makes people more biased. Education helps a little. Most effective method is contact. Make friendships and associations across social groups. Leave your comfort zone to meet new people. Priming: use of positive images of stereotyped groups. Review your media diet (movies, TV, podcasts, magazines, blogs, social media). Find a variety of representations of different identities. Finding inspirational people is not enough – people like Stephen Hawking do present a positive image, but you want to see a full spectrum of every day people with disabilities, not just the very best, the exemplars. Be aware and mindful of your biases and create an action plan for what you will do to address it: if I am being influenced by bias, then I will _____.

    Institutional Solutions – Policies and Procedures

    You can’t always change minds – it is better to change institutions. In your organization, find ways to make collective decisions and monitor each other for bias and keep each other accountable to your values. Cultivate diverse leadership, not tokenism (when a person is meant to represent one identity but is not given autonomy or the ability to influence and make change in an organization). Make criterion for success objective and measurable, so you can justify the reasons for your decisions. Create opportunities to collaborate and seek ideas across social groups and industries. Slow down decision making.

    Institutional Solutions – Culture of Trust

    From the work of Brené Brown, these are the qualities of an environment that embraces vulnerability to create a culture of trust, where people have the courage to trust others and the integrity to be worthy of trust from others.  These are the qualities you need to be fostering in your teams and seeking in your candidates (acronym BRAVING).

    Boundaries: set your own & respect those of others

    Reliability: do what you say you’ll do - that means not overpromising at work, being clear about limitations, and delivering on commitments.

    Accountability: own up to your mistakes and fix them

    Vault: don’t share confidential information that is not yours to share.

    Integrity: do the right thing – actions over words.  Practice your values instead of just professing them.

    Non-judgement: you can answer requests for help without judging those who ask, and you can ask for help yourself.

    Generosity: extend the benefit of the doubt to people’s intentions, words, and behaviors

    Brown found that asking for help was the #1 trust-building behavior in a survey of over 1,000 leaders.

    Clarify and operationalize your values. Discuss what inclusion & vulnerability will look and feel like. Identify and address when stereotypes are coming into play and reward that recognition. Make bias mitigation an essential job function performed regularly by everyone. Begin with the end in mind: measure your current level of trust and diversity, make changes, and regularly evaluate. Promote collaboration and honest feedback: reward vulnerability and BRAVING. Commit to professional & personal development.