By Claudia Schabel | President, Schabel Solutions

Implicit bias is part of human nature and is often a significant problem in the workplace.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Understanding and addressing unconscious biases at your organization takes dedicating time, attention and resources. Actionable solutions exist, and tackling implicit bias at all levels in your enterprise can help you achieve a culture of inclusivity and equity -- leading to more productivity. Here’s how. 

Understand what implicit bias looks like. 
Implicit bias happens automatically, outside of a person’s control. Most people are unaware they even have implicit biases. The brain triggers these biases by making fast assumptions and judgments of people, influenced by our backgrounds and personal experiences. Almost every organization that has not openly explored this issue and implemented strategies to curtail it will have some form of implicit bias undermining operations in significant ways.  

You can’t fix a problem you don’t recognize. The first step in mitigating implicit bias is determining that it is present in your workplace to begin with. Look for signs of implicit bias such as minorities being passed up for promotions, racist undertones in employment decisions, and cultural misunderstandings in day-to-day interactions. The moment you recognize implicit biases at work, take action. Broach the subject with other leaders and decide on a solution.  

Mitigate biases through proactive strategies. 
Implicit bias will never entirely go away. It's part of human nature. However, your organization can mitigate implicit bias by facing it head on and implementing proven strategies. First, openly discuss the topic of implicit bias with your employees and leadership teams. Get the issue out in the open and encourage conversations. Your goal should be to get the whole team talking about what is and what is not working in the workplace for people of all backgrounds. Start strategizing a proactive solution together.  

Consciously addressing implicit bias in the workplace with your entire team can prevent underlying tensions from coming to a head in ways that hurt your organization, employees and customer base. 

Organizations that don’t address implicit bias could be at risk of tainting their reputations and their ability to attract and retain talent. In the last few years, we have seen well-intended Iowa-based organizations, and others across the country, addressing the effects of implicit bias in a very public manner. Don’t follow in their footsteps. 

Be intentional and proactive about implicit bias mitigation. 
You must be vigilant in keeping implicit bias out of the workplace. The best thing you can do for your enterprise is to be intentional about mitigating biases. Act toward inclusivity and equity to create a less biased work environment. Organizations that devote time and resources to understanding implicit bias are in a better position to attract and retain talent and protect their brand. 

Claudia Schabel, president of Schabel Solutions, lived in Brazil and Japan before relocating to Des Moines, where she has lived for two decades. Schabel has 15 years of experience as a diversity, equity and inclusion strategist with Fortune 100 and 500 companies. She serves as a commissioner on the city of Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission, the director of diversity on Iowa’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) State Council, the advocacy chair of the Iowa Chapter National Women Business Owner (NAWBO), a board member of Brazilian Cultural Center (BCC) and a trainer/facilitator for the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery. She also volunteers at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.