How to measure bias in the workplace

Somebody as soon as famously mentioned, “You’ll be able to’t handle what you possibly can’t measure.” This actually holds true for biases.

All of us have biases. Our acutely aware biases—or these we’re conscious of—are pretty simple to acknowledge. Nonetheless, our unconscious biases—or these we don’t notice we now have—might be more difficult to detect.

Though unconscious biases are unavoidable, they’ll negatively have an effect on the workplace after we act on them to somebody’s drawback or use them to make unfair, or unethical, selections. This could lead to discrimination and negatively influence firm morale, innovation, and a company’s means to entice and retain gifted staff.


A technique to fight unconscious bias is to measure your workplace’s bias quotient—your staff’ means to acknowledge and disrupt bias.

Measuring bias may give organizations a extra concrete sense of the place they’re extra susceptible to exist, in addition to the forms of biases staff are most inclined to.

It begins with consciousness

Over the previous a number of years, many corporations have made an effort to facilitate a extra equitable workplace by new or up to date range, fairness, and inclusion insurance policies and initiatives. Nonetheless, these DEI insurance policies and mission statements are of little use in the event that they don’t work in apply.

An organization might say it’s dedicated to hiring extra numerous candidates. Nonetheless, a more in-depth look may present that, internally, the similar forms of individuals are receiving promotions or that when the firm makes a various rent, it struggles to retain that individual.

What could be missing is consciousness—trying past your group’s insurance policies and taking a look at what’s occurring in your workplace. It’s asking the arduous questions and evaluating how issues in your workplace really are, not how you prefer to them to be.

Utilizing information to transfer previous consciousness (and towards motion)

Information from quite a lot of sources and channels might be collected to assist organizations decide their bias quotient. This information contains:


  • Behavioral coaching information
  • Exit and keep interviews
  • Helpline studies
  • Demographics
  • Worker surveys
  • Hiring, promotion, and attrition information
  • Coverage incidents and violations

Maintain in thoughts that not all information is created equal. For instance, worker surveys may help seize sentiment information at a selected level in time however shouldn’t be the sole predictor of bias quotient. These surveys have a tendency to get polarized responses—there’s usually a gaggle of people who find themselves upset, one other group who don’t belief that the survey is nameless and can let you know what they suppose you need to hear, and a gaggle of staff who’re blissful. However the responses miss the overwhelming majority of people who find themselves someplace in the center and may present extra balanced perception into what’s working and the areas that want enchancment.

Equally, studies from demographics and inside controls are beneficial for his or her uncooked information however hardly ever dig into the “why” past the numbers. A company might meet its objective of hiring extra minority candidates however fail to observe up on monitoring the expertise of these new staff. Bias quotient can’t be all information or all sentiment—it wants to be an intensive mixture of each.

The perfect approach to measure bias quotient is to discover a approach to measure day-to-day interactions as a result of, finally, that’s when bias happens. Nonetheless, this may be tough to obtain and might be invasive.

Habits-based coaching gives a approach to uncover how staff might act when confronted with sure conditions (e.g., hiring, promotions, interacting with people who find themselves completely different from them) and train them how to navigate and fight their unconscious biases to have an effect on actual change. As an alternative of merely lecturing learners, the greatest coaching challenges staff to visualize on a regular basis situations and think about their actions. The objective isn’t to immediately get rid of bias, however to uncover how bias influences selections. Apart from making staff extra self-aware, behavior-based coaching produces significant information that can be utilized to measure your group’s bias quotient.

Taking motion

Though measuring your group’s bias quotient is a crucial first step in making a extra equitable workplace, successfully utilizing that information permits you to achieve success in attaining that fairness. Listed below are 3 ways to translate your information into one thing actionable:

1. Monitor your information

Monitoring your information retains you on high of tendencies and ensures you’re responding to your learners’ performances and your group’s particular coaching wants.

By evaluating selections that staff felt have been applicable in simulation, your crew can perceive the baseline for bias and decide a path to remediate misconceptions or biased conduct. A greatest apply is to consider:

  • How did my inhabitants carry out in the mixture to spot and keep away from bias?
  • Are there areas in the group the place microcultures might exist (e.g., per enterprise phase, area, or perform)?
  • What are the most typical misconceptions?
  • Do managers have the similar susceptibility?

With this information in thoughts, you possibly can set up a transparent path ahead for future coaching and growth. And in case you’re doing this in a measured approach, you possibly can establish what your organizational tendencies and propensities are, and in the event that they’ve modified over time. Finally, you’ll find a way to additionally present this visibility to management in a considerate approach.

2. Ensure your program is responsive to staff’ and organizational wants.

Pushing robust, behavior-focused coaching into the worker inhabitants is critical to guarantee change throughout the group. Good coaching challenges contributors to think about bias from a number of angles. It additionally helps staff acknowledge and problem—in a protected setting—their very own biases. 


Contemplate nontraditional forms of behavior-focused coaching, akin to visualization workouts. For instance, think about you’re ready in line for espresso, and the couple in entrance of you is taking a very long time to order. After staff visualize this scene, ask them to look at it. What race is the visualized couple? What gender are they? Are they outdated or younger? Not all staff have the similar unconscious biases; open-ended visualization workouts can yield extra personalised studying experiences, which can assist the coaching resonate higher.

When pondering by must-haves for efficient unconscious bias coaching, guarantee it’s targeted on provable conduct change—versus a check-the-box strategy—and produces behavioral information.

3. Transcend one-and-done coaching.

Addressing unconscious bias is a continuing effort, not a once-a-year coaching course or one thing you roll out when a disaster forces your hand. Contemplate creating an ecosystem with tailor-made reinforcement, common touchpoints (e.g., brief movies), and periodic refreshers.

This ecosystem can be a chance to reinforce tone—and, extra importantly, motion—from the high. For instance, when encouraging engaged management, perception from behavior-based coaching can empower leaders to make use of constant two-way dialogue round findings and misconceptions their staff might have concerning things like bias and microaggressions. Bringing leaders into the dialogue with concrete actions and measures reveals your staff that the issues they are saying and do on a regular basis matter. The methods leaders conduct themselves and reply to incidents and potential incidents set the tone and assist drive their group’s work tradition.

Whether or not you’re coaching leaders or non-supervisory staff, the extra publicity staff have to navigate and keep away from unconscious biases, the extra ready they’ll be to put what they’ve discovered into apply ought to a state of affairs in the workplace come up.

The objective of measuring and appearing in your group’s bias quotient is to attempt for worker progress and continuous enchancment. Finally, you need to prepare staff to be higher, extra self-aware, variations of themselves. This may help lead to a workplace tradition in which everybody feels revered and included.

Harper Wells is director of compliance insights and technique with True Office Learning