A new survey shows that bias, along with its impact on productivity and well-being, is still a serious issue for employees.
Despite efforts to increase fairness and equity in the workplace, bias still plagues many organizations. According to a recent survey, 64% of employees say they have experienced workplace bias in the past year, and 61% feel that bias against them occurs at least once a month. Nearly two-thirds (54%) of respondents say they’ve witnessed bias against a coworker in the past year. The vast majority (84%) said that the bias they experienced has had a negative impact on their overall happiness, well-being, and confidence. Read on for more survey results and insights into how you can better address workplace bias.
More women report being victims of bias than men (42% versus 38%). At the same time, 56% of LGBT employees say that they’ve experienced bias, as well as 54% of workers with disabilities and 54% of Hispanics. Nearly half (44%) of both Asian and African American employees report being subject to bias.
According to survey results, the vast majority of bias incidents involve subtle and indirect behaviors and comments. Even though they were affected by these experiences, employees seldom act on them. Only 29% of survey respondents say they spoke up about the bias; and 34% said they ignored it. The vast majority of respondents say that their workplace has made progress in addressing bias, but they clearly feel that bias continues to be a problem.
The report suggests five ways to increase inclusion and discourage bias:
1. Showcase inclusive behaviors. Treat everyone with fairness and respect. Promptly have respectful but tough conversations when needed. Be aware of unconscious bias to ensure decisions are made in a transparent, consistent, and informed way. Listen to others and seek opportunities to learn about different cultures.
2. Define what “allyship” means in the context of the organization’s values and goals. Allyship, making effective use of alliances, is part of everyday behaviors and an expectation your organization should display front and center. It means supporting employees even if your own identity isn’t affected by a specific challenge.
3. Promote allyship to encourage curiosity about and awareness of others. Make relationship-building a priority. Encourage and provide opportunities for employees to interact with and learn about others who are different from them.
4. Showcase how people’s identities intersect and overlap. Help people recognize their commonalities.
5. Make allyship part of everyday behaviors. Recognize that this isn’t a “one-and-done” effort. Relationship-building and creating alliances and connections require investment and nurturing over time.
The survey authors conclude, “Inclusion should remain a priority. The good news is that the majority of today’s workforce recognizes the value of efforts to advance inclusion….Many people feel that when they show up to work, they can be themselves.” The authors stress that “the stakes are high” and that bias can negatively impact workplace experiences. They say, “This is a call to action for organizations today.”