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7 Tactics to Deal with Workplace Bias

CoAdvantage- In our recent article, we looked at the subtle red flags that may indicate workplace bias is a problem at an organization. But what happens next? If workplace bias is present and manifesting in the form of illegal harassment or discrimination, what can HR and employers do to protect their employees and keep the workplace safe for everyone? Here are seven best practices.

1: Blind yourself.
This tactic is particularly useful in addressing bias-related to hiring. Restrict the information that hiring managers can access when reviewing resumés, up to and including candidate names. When demographic indicators are absent, hiring managers are forced to focus on the content of the resume itself. Multiple studies have found that this can reduce or even erase the effects of unconscious bias.

2: Set specific goals
It’s not enough to talk about eliminating bias and promoting workplace diversity. Set clear, well-defined, and achievable organizational goals to support the outcomes your company wants to produce.

3: Get (anonymous) feedback.
When big stories about workplace harassment and workplace bias appear in the news, it’s easy to wonder how leaders didn’t know what was going on. But the truth is, it can be very easy to miss misconduct when perpetrators cover their tracks well and victims aren’t sure how or are afraid to come forward. Implement a mechanism through which employees can safely, possibly anonymously report misconduct.

4: Conduct bias training.
Training alone won’t stop workplace bias or its problems, but it can help everyone to recognize what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Most importantly, it can help employees know what to do if they experience or witness some form of harassment or discrimination.

5: Investigate and document the problem.
If there is an incident of harassment or discrimination, the employer needs to thoroughly document the situation, including speaking to all involved parties and witnesses. If an investigation leads to some form of employment action, including reprimands or outright termination, the company needs to be able to substantiate its decisions.

6: Make sure HR isn’t part of the problem.
HR personnel can find themselves facing conflicting priorities in these situations; they serve as representatives of the company, but they are advocates for employees. The key is to ensure that HR does not become part of the workplace bias problem by outright protecting or willfully covering up misconduct.

7: Get the legal team involved, if appropriate.
If the situation looks like it could potentially lead to litigation, the legal team or any legal advisors need to have an opportunity to review the case and offer input on its handling.

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about CoAdvantage’s ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.

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