Signs of bias at work
Thought Leadership

3 TellTale Signs That Bias Show Up At Your Workplace

From Microaggressions To Macro-Issues: 3 Telltale Signs Of Bias At Work

Bias in the workplace costs at least $64 billion annually. This $64,000,000,000 is the price of replacing more than 2 million workers in the United States due to discriminatory practices. This cost increases further if legal costs and lawsuit penalties are taken into consideration. Instead of contributing to the figure, consciously or unconsciously, businesses should focus on identifying bias in the workplace and constantly find ways to create a healthy and inclusive environment for all employees. Companies should be aware of the following signs of bias in the workplace:


1. Homogeneity of employees

No business can truly adopt DEI if it has employees that are unable to stand out on their own. If a company hires candidates from similar backgrounds or if candidates with the same race, gender, age, or even university form a significant part of your workforce, it might be time to reconsider hiring practices. Another sign of bias could be the ‘whitening’ of the workforce. This takes place because minorities get statistically fewer call backs despite similar qualifications and complete eligibility. The University of Missouri also conducted an experiment to evaluate the validity of similar claims and concluded that white names got 50 percent more callbacks than the black names, regardless of the industry or occupation. Therefore, a lack of Asian, African, and Hispanic workforce representation can be directly attributed to bias practices in the workplace. 


Adapting to a blind resume review process can be helpful. Software programs such as Blendoor blur details such as age and name to enable a bias-free recruitment process and act as an effective resume extractor. Blendoor Founder & CEO Stephanie Lampkin says, “The company is focused on finding qualified diverse candidates by mitigating unconscious bias in the hiring process.”


2. Language usage

Exclusive language and microaggressions can be strong signs of bias in the workplace. For example, if a company refuses to accept personal pronouns or supports discriminatory talk in the name of humor, it might have deep-rooted biases. The language used at every stage in the organization, including when talking to potential employees, current employees, or even suppliers, needs to be inclusive and considerate since it helps empower the marginalized and oppressed. Not using inclusive language can make employees feel invalidated and disrespected, which can lead to employee health problems. For example, there is a correlation between the proper use of a name and mental health in the transgender community. A study concluded that transgender individuals who could use their name of choice, instead of the name they were given at birth, reported less depression and thoughts of suicide. 


Companies can incorporate inclusive language in more subtle ways, such as by steering away from addressing employees as ‘guys’ and substituting it with ‘members’ instead or by directly encouraging all employees to use gender-neutral language. 


3. Lack of DEI initiatives

A company’s biased workplace culture is prominently highlighted If there is a shortage of DEI resources or if there is no safe space created to address issues. A company might also mislead stakeholders by frequently advocating for bias-free activities without actually working towards creating them, which makes it essential to reassess resources and their quality available at the company. For example, a Deloitte report examined how 79% of organizations agreed that diversity initiatives create a sense of belonging at the workplace and directly contribute to the company’s success in the next 12-18 months. However, hardly 17% of these organizations had policies and practices implemented to further the cause of DE%I at the workplace. 


Organizations need to ensure that they create resources that are relevant and needed by the organization. It is recommended to take feedback from employees to truly understand what can help them feel more safe and protected. 


Conclusively, business leaders need to become more aware of conscious and unconscious discriminatory practices in their organizations. However, simply recognizing these biases is not enough. It is vital to continuously work towards overcoming them and create a healthy and empowering environment for current and potential employees to allow an organization to maximize its potential and grow.