Though we would like to believe that biases do not exist in the workplace in 2021, they are very much still running rampant. Biases may be better disguised and not as outright obvious as they once were, but they still exist and continue to cause harm to many individuals. Confronting bias in the workplace is often a daunting task, especially if your boss is the one exhibiting the said biases. However, it is important to be an agent of change in this day and age.
Even though confronting certain comments or disguised actions can be unnerving at first, you could end up leading an organizational change that needed to take place. Below are some tips you can implement should you need to confront bias in the workplace.
Don’t Play the Blame or Shame Game
If you felt that a coworker had a bias against you or a beloved coworker of yours, it can become easy to play the blame game. You might be allowing your personal feelings to put you in an argumentative position. It is normal to become offended by such comments or unconscious biases, but blaming or shaming the offender will not accomplish much in terms of reconciliation. Even though you might be justified in approaching the situation this way, it would be better to get to the root of the issue. Using combative language in your confrontation will only result in the offender becoming defensive. While it should not be your job to educate others on why their behavior could be perceived as biased, you should be able to call out the injustice without labeling the offender as the root of the problem.
Try to Understand Their Point of View
It might not seem fair to you that someone who offended you should have a chance to explain themselves. You might feel they have no rational excuse as to why they made a certain comment or excluded you. However, you will only be able to reach some sort of reconciliation or begin uncovering their bias by trying to understand their point of view. Rather than plainly telling them they are wrong, try asking them why they feel the way they do or why they took certain actions. Even though you may feel these individuals don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt, you need to understand the type of environment they were raised in and what they might have been taught. By asking these types of questions to the offender, it might foster a better conversation in the long run.
Ultimately, biases may take months or even years to discover. There might not be a way to completely erase the biases we grew up with, but we can certainly attempt to remove them by confronting them when we see them and fostering a conversation about them. Confronting bias in the workplace can result in an equal organization where employees all have mutual respect for one another. Becoming the first person to spark this change can be intimidating, but you will either create a better working environment for all or find a new workplace that shares your values.