by Joan C. Williams and Sky Mihaylo, Harvard Business Review

SUMMARY: Companies spend millions on antibias training each year in hopes of creating more-inclusive—and thereby innovative and effective—workforces. Studies show that well-managed diverse groups perform better and are more committed, have higher collective intelligence, and excel at making decisions and solving problems. But research also shows that bias-prevention programs rarely deliver. So what can you, as an individual leader, do to ensure that your team is including and making the most of diverse voices? How can one person fix what an entire organization can’t?

Although bias itself is devilishly hard to change, it is not as difficult to interrupt. The authors have identified several practices that managers can use to counter bias (and avoid its negative effects) without spending a lot of time or political capital. In hiring, leaders should insist on a diverse pool, precommit to objective criteria, limit referral hiring, and structure interviews around skills-based questions. Day to day, they should ensure that high- and low-value work is assigned evenly and run meetings in a way that guarantees all voices are heard. In evaluating and developing people, they should clarify criteria for positive reviews and promotions, stick to those rules, and separate potential from performance and personality from skill sets.


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