Five Ways Bias Shows up at Work

EZRA
Mar 21 2022 | Insights

With an increased emphasis on DE&I, business leaders are becoming more aware of the presence of bias in their organizations but many still underestimate the extent to just how much it can influence everyday decisions. Beyond the more extreme examples of discrimination, bias can affect almost any interaction between people in a business. Here are just five ways that leaders should be on the lookout for.


You might be hiring people just like you

One of the most dangerous places bias shows up is in your hiring process. One study found that people with Asian surnames are 28% less likely to receive an interview call-back than those with Anglo surnames. Bias also come into play during the interview process such as: 

  • Appearance biases; based on factors such as racial difference, age, and gender

  • Affinity bias: the tendency to gravitate toward those with whom we are most similar 

  • The halo or horns effect; the predisposition toward judging a candidate based on a single piece of information, such as their university background

Your performance reviews might be biased  

At Ezra, we understand the importance of developing and advancing your top talent. Unfortunately, in many companies, bias can inhibit promising talent from being recognized and compensated. One study in personnel psychology found that over 60% of a manager’s rating of an employee’s performance was a reflection of the individual manager, rather than the employee themselves. 

It influences everyday decision-making

Decision-making is a huge part of daily life at work. On a given day, people at all levels make key decisions, each of which can be clouded by bias. A study of product managers revealed the prevalence of hierarchy bias, with 95% of those involved having fast-tracked a product or feature because of who told them to do it, not because of its importance or value. Bias can significantly influence both individuals and a company’s overall efficiency and performance.

Bias is embedded in language

Language is one of the most common ways in which bias shows up, whether directed toward employees, potential hires, or even customers. So much, it has made many companies make strides towards using more inclusive language throughout their communications. 

The work pays off. One study found that companies that embrace inclusivity and inclusive language reported 39% higher customer satisfaction. Another found that 39% of respondents said they abandoned a potential job opportunity because they felt that the organization wasn’t inclusive, an opinion which was determined by the language used in job descriptions, words spoken by interviewers, and messages written in brand materials.

It affects our social interactions

Social bonding is one of the most important factors in developing close-knit teams and a thriving culture in any organization. That’s why it’s so important for leaders to create safe and inclusive spaces for all employees, both by targeting biased treatment of employees such as microaggressions (experienced by 1 in 4 in the workplace), and by ensuring that social events and activities remain inclusive for all cultures, religions, and abilities.

Bias can have a momentous impact from top to bottom of an organization. Whether in hiring decisions, talent development, or even day-to-day decision-making, it can shape not only the culture but the performance of your business.

Get started in removing bias and building an inclusive culture throughout your organization with Ezra’s world-class employee and leadership coaching. Our scalable solution can support your people make better decisions, communicate more effectively to all audiences, and foster a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive working environment across all levels and business processes.

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