We must recognize that biases are not inherently wrong but contribute to inequitable outcomes in our workplaces and communities. For example, I may have a bias in favor of people with postsecondary degrees. Without further examination, this positive bias may cause me to exclude perfectly qualified candidates from a job opening. In recognizing the inequitable outcomes this bias creates, we can begin to adjust our processes (individual thought processes and organizational processes) to have equitable outcomes.
Accepting our personal and organizational biases can be challenging. As humans, we naturally see ourselves in a positive light. Facing our biases does not make us bad people; it can only make us better people. If everyone recognized and owned their biases, it would create individual and collective healing.
It is important to own our biases with compassion – for self and community. It is easy for us to judge our own and others’ behaviors. We must recognize that we had little control over the biases we inherited and simultaneously be willing to hold ourselves accountable for the biases we will leave as our legacy.
Disrupting biases, like any progress toward equity, is a lifelong commitment. While our prejudices are deeply rooted and may never be entirely “gone,” our self-awareness and ownership empower us to decide how we act on them. It is essential to admit that doing nothing is in itself a choice.
Recognizing, owning, and disrupting biases empowers us to redesign our systems to safeguard against inequitable outcomes.
Step Up: Equity Matters was co-founded in 2014 by a collaborative team of people representing corporate, nonprofit, and small businesses. Since that time, the team has grown and our work has evolved, but we remain true to our original goal of advancing equity within organizations. Pictured above are co-founders (left to right) Amy Kesling, Haywood Simmons, Tania Ibarra, and Sara Alvarado.