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Can Inclusive Leadership Eliminate Implicit Bias In Your Business?


Implicit bias is challenging for most of us. Given that it resides in our subconscious, addressing it poses a real challenge to the cognitive process. Here are a few strategies you can employ as an Inclusive Leader to overcome this challenge.

Defining Implicit Bias

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes and stereotypes that unconsciously affect our understanding, actions, and decisions. This type of bias is often activated involuntarily and can be based on a person’s race, gender, age, religion, and other factors. In the workplace, implicit bias can lead to unfair treatment, inequitable opportunities, and a lack of diversity and inclusion.

Expand Your Definition of Success

All of us operate from a “template” of what success looks like. But what if our template is not an accurate representation? Are we making assumptions that have unintended consequences?

As an example, let’s examine a typical hiring process. While interviewing a candidate, we might ask where they went to school or ask them to share their experiences. We honestly believe we are gathering relevant information to help us objectively decide whether the person is a good fit for the job. But we are likely measuring that person against our hidden “template.” Did the person go to the “right” school? Are their experiences similar to ours? Is their personality a close match with other employees on the team?

Not surprisingly, most managers hire people who match their implicit template of success. But this approach can pose a serious problem. Even if we want to be inclusive, the template may inadvertently invite bias by favoring more traditional candidates or “the safe bets.” Instead of applying this default approach, take some time to identify some objective measures of likely success (communication skills, emotional intelligence, different perspective), to name a few.

Focus on Additive Contribution

We must challenge our assumptions to help us minimize our implicit biases. For example, we need to ask if the criteria used in the evaluation process will lead us to choose employees who will add to our team’s success or simply replicate the status quo. For example, is an MBA from a top business school necessary to succeed? We need to ask questions that help us determine how a person adds to the portfolio of experiences and skills across our entire team.

Redefining success and focusing on Additive Contribution are powerful ways to avoid team sameness and foster inclusion and innovation.

If you want to learn more about inclusive leadership and how to combat implicit bias, consider AchieveNEXT. 

We are a company dedicated to helping mid- and emerging market leaders improve their performance and reach their full potential. Our services include:

  • Workforce planning
  • Succession planning
  • Talent management strategy
  • Executive coaching
  • Business relationships 
  • Sales team effectiveness
  • Career services
  • Leadership development
  • Management development
  • DEI/Culture 

At AchieveNEXT, we focus on promoting an inclusive workplace culture and providing a combination of diverse peer advisory networks and talent management performance solutions. 

Visit our website to learn more about how we can help you and your organization achieve success through inclusive leadership.

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