April 8, 2020

Two powerful ways managers can curb implicit biases

Women looking at design studio prints


  • Two individual managerial decisions — expanding definitions of success and considering employees’ additive contributions — can set orgs on the path to become more inclusive and diverse.

Many managers want to be more inclusive, but they don’t know how to get there. They are often not given the right tools to overcome the challenges posed by implicit biases. Research shows there are two, small—but more powerful—ways managers can block bias: first, by closely examining and broadening their definitions of success, and second, by asking what each person adds to their teams, what we call their “additive contribution.”

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When hiring, evaluating, or promoting employees, we often measure people against our implicit assumptions of what talent looks like—our hidden “template of success.” These templates potentially favor one group over others, even if members of each group were equally likely to be successful. We need to challenge the assumptions behind our templates for success. We need to ask if the criteria used to evaluate candidates will lead us to choose employees who will add to our team success or simply replicate the status quo.

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Next Edition | May 6, 2019