8 Tactics to Roll Back Racial Bias at the Office – Lexology

Posted: July 5, 2020 at 11:45 pm


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February is Black History Month in the United States. US President Barak Obama described it thus:

"During National African American History Month, we recognize champions of justice and the sacrifices they made to bring us to this point, we honor the contributions of African Americans since our country's beginning, and we recommit to reaching for a day when no person is judged by anything but the content of their character."

The #MeToo and Times Up movements in the United States demonstrated that while great strides have been made to open doors for women and minorities, significant work lays ahead to equalize the playing field for all Americans. Issues critical to achieving racial equality include police ethics, the income gap, equal access to high quality education, employment discrimination, workforce diversity, and the impact of redistricting and voter ID requirements on voting rights. In this article we address racial bias, which impacts all aspects of the employment continuum from hiring, pay, promotion, and overall retention of people of color.

Different faces of racial bias

According to the Psychology Today, racial bias is the act of holding prejudices against someone based on their race. Racial bias can take various forms, so lets understand the distinctions:

Practice tips

Racial bias prevents a company from leveraging the full potential of its entire workforce. Studies have long demonstrated the financial benefits of a diverse workforce. With the authority and legal tools to support the companys commercial objectives while steering leaders, managers, and supervisors clear of potential claims, in-house counsel are uniquely positioned to provide the right guidance and challenge bias. Follow this guide to prevent racial biases at your company:

1. Take an implicit bias test

Maintained by Harvard University, this test exposes implicit biases that exist outside the consciousness in categories such as race, gender, gender identity, weight, and religion. If your results denote a bias, dont be dismayed. Now you can consciously ensure that your bias does not manifest in the administration of your work responsibilities.

2. Stand up

Renowned motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, You've got to be before you can do and do before you can have. For your companys inclusion efforts to stick, choose a philosophy of inclusion and exhibit it in your thinking and the guidance you give your company.

3. Examine company policies

Critically examine your company policies and their enforcement for unintentional yet disparate outcomes. For example:

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4. Address felony convictions

Use the three-part test recommended by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in determining whether to hire a candidate with a criminal conviction.

5. Address double standards

In considering a minority candidate, if a manager emphasizes the need for the candidate to be qualified, while suggesting it would be a stretch role for an unqualified white candidate, unconscious bias might be at work. If, despite a minority candidate demonstrating all objective criteria required for a job, the hiring manager still has unspecified concerns.

6. Examine your preferences

If your year-end bonus were dependent on the racial, cultural, and ethnical balance of your direct reports, would you receive 100 percent payout? Would you resort to the I cant find qualified minority candidates mantra as an excuse? If so, scrutinize your practices.

7. Have the courage to ask

We see this failure in advertising all the time: A company releases an ad and is blindsided by negative backlash for a what appears to be (in hindsight) an obvious bias failure that threatens the products revenue as consumers vow boycotts. Have the courage to ask those affected, and foster an encouraging environment that welcomes sincere feedback.

8. Check your language

If your coworker refers to the black employees sitting together in the cafeteria as a gang or some other derogatory term, address the language of bias.

Parting thoughts

Undoing racial biases, whether implicit or unconscious, is an arduous challenge for one person, let alone an entire society, to undertake. And though you might not be able to change the world, you can do your part to improve working conditions for minorities in your company.

This article was originally published for Black History Month.

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is a global legal association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other private-sector organizations through information, education, networkingopportunities and advocacy initiatives. With more than 45,000 members in 85 countries, employed by over 10,000 organizations, ACC connects its members to the people and resources necessary for both personal and professional growth. By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel.

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8 Tactics to Roll Back Racial Bias at the Office - Lexology

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July 5th, 2020 at 11:45 pm

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