Detecting Hidden Bias

Resources for Employees

By Pamela Babcock

HR Magazine, February 2006

To ensure that bias is spotted and dealt with appropriately, you'll need to enlist the help of your employees. According to Tolerance.org, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, employees, managers and executives can all help set a respectful and unbiased tone at work by:

  • Interrupting early. Workplace culture largely is determined by what is or isn't allowed. Speak up early and often to build a more inclusive environment.
  • Using-or establishing-policies. Call upon existing and possibly forgotten or ignored policies to address offensive language or behavior. Encourage employees to work with HR to create new policies and procedures, if needed. Provide anti-bias training.
  • Going up the ladder. If behavior persists, take complaints to management. Find allies. If your boss is biased, consider options based on his or her temperament and the office environment. If you're uncomfortable confronting the boss directly, consult HR harassment policies to see if they apply.
  • Banding together. Like-minded colleagues may want to form an alliance to ask the colleague or supervisor to change his or her tone or behavior.

Pamela Babcock is a freelance writer based in the New York City area. She has worked as a reporter for The Washington Post and the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., as well as in corporate communications.

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