If you are a human resources manager for a workplace environment, one of your tasks may be to provide diversity training for your employees. Your workforce likely includes a diverse population of people with different ages, colors, genders, sexual orientations, races, national origins, religions, disabilities, lifestyles, and cultures. That's why diversity training is crucial for any workplace environment. Here's what you need to know about biases people have due to labeling others who are different from themselves.
Everyone is biased and labels others
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University believe that everyone has a bias blind spot, which means individuals aren't aware that they aren't aware of their own bias and believe that other people are more biased. And a Harvard University professor also believes that everyone is biased. Most people have preconceived ideas about other people and may treat others differently based on those ideas, which can make it difficult to avoid discrimination, intimidation, and confrontation in your workplace.
For example, a religious person may be wary of an atheist and find it difficult to work with that person simply based on how they label that individual. Therefore, one thing that you'll want to cover in diversity training to reduce biases is how people label difference.
Help employees identify their biases
Give your employees a quiz to help them identify their own biases and how they label others in the workplace and during social interactions. Most diversity training programs have quizzes available to meet this need. The quizzes are developed to help identify biases employees have in situations that are typical in workplace environments.
The results of the quizzes should be kept confidential so there are no ramifications for employees answering the questions truthfully. These quizzes are designed to allow employees to take a closer look at themselves and how they are biased so they can work on improving themselves through the diversification training. The quizzes are typically self-graded so nobody else can see the results.
Host a focus group luncheon without labels
Since people tend to label others based on appearance alone, hosting a focus group luncheon without labels can remove those preconceived ideas that result in labeling. This idea comes from a famous soda manufacturer who conducted a social experiment by having six strangers eat breakfast together in the dark. Since they were unable to assign labels to the other people, they formed their impressions of each other based on conversation alone.
To host a luncheon in the dark, stage your employees in one area and have them escorted one at a time by an usher or host(ess) into a darkened dining facility. The idea here is that they won't know who is sitting at their tables, even though they already know who their fellow employees are. Try to intermix different departments and different diversities at each table.
Each table should have a facilitator to conduct the meeting and provide topics for discussion among the employees. A diversity training program can provide the facilitators for your focus group luncheon. After topics have been discussed, it will be time for the lights to come on so your employees can see who they've been interacting with. Hopefully, the lights coming on will be the eye-opening experience some employees may need to see that they are biased towards others based on how they label them.
Alternative focus group: Since it can be a logistical nightmare getting everyone seated in the dark while keeping their appearances a secret, an alternative is to conduct an online video conference and instruct everyone to turn off their lighting.
For more information on diversity training, contact a company that specializes in corporate training.