The gender initiative breakfast demonstrated AmChamEU support for the European Commission’s work on gender diversity in the workplace. It was a moment to raises awareness through a discussion and networking platform for decision-makers and members of AmChamEU, where the panel included:

  1. Robert Biedron, MEP  and Vice-chair of the committee on women’s rights and gender equality.
  2. Susan Danger,  CEO of AmchamEU
  3. Suzanne Clark, President of AmChamEU
  4. Aliki Foinikopoulou, facilitator from SalesForce.

Claudia de Castro Caldeirinha, Redscope’s Director was a speaker in this panel of leaders, where she addressed the strategies to fight unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias

People can be consciously committed to equality, and work deliberately to behave without prejudice, yet still possess negative prejudices or stereotypes.

Like other psychological functions, stereotypes have an adaptive benefit. By perceiving individuals in terms of their social categories, we can form assumptions and expectations about others.

Social categorization provides a sense of order and predictability to our world that, in turn, we rely upon to guide our interactions. Without social categorization, our social encounters would be very complex and stressful. We would enter every novel encounter with limited understanding of the other person’s motivations, interests and expertise. Stereotypes, in contrast, offer us a roadmap for navigating an effective interpersonal exchange. 

Forget the MYTH of impartiality!

Bias interferes with the ability to be impartial, unprejudiced, or objective. It leads to:

  1. Perpetuate traditional norms and roles
  2. Micro-aggressions
  3. Exclusion, Discrimination and Sexism.

 

For example, as leaders, when they assign responsibility for a high-profile piece of work, to whom do they entrust that responsibility? They will likely offer opportunities to those individuals whom they trust the most. Those people, it turns out, are people who are similar to themselves. Now, because success on high-profile assignments is critical for emerging as a leader, a tendency to favor people like ourselves when assigning stretch assignments leads to self-cloning and promotes homogeneity in leadership. Though not intentional, people who are not like us get overlooked and left behind.

Although we believe we are making objective assessments of merit and treating people fairly, hidden preferences for people like ourselves can cause us to support the development and career progression of some people over others without us even knowing we are doing so. Regarding employment, affinity bias can compel people to favour those who are most similar to themselves, thereby leading to a tendency for leaders, people managers or recruiting managers to hire, promote, or otherwise esteem those who mirror attributes or qualities that align with their own.

Moreover, we are also very good at justifying our biases. Studies show that we exhibit a systematic tendency to claim that the strengths of in-group candidates are more important selection criteria than are the strengths of candidates with backgrounds different from our own.

Affinity bias can also lead us to actively solicit, pay greater attention to and to favor the contributions of in-group members over out-group members. We are also more likely to mentor or sponsor in-group members compared with out-group members.

In some groups, there may be certain individuals with a diverse inner circle. The facilitator encourages participants to think about how an individual’s experiences could disrupt affinity bias with the ensuing discussion drawing on intergroup research supporting intergroup friendship as a prejudice reduction technique.

How Do We Change?

Through her workshops and trainings, Claudia de Castro Caldeirinha  helps international institutions and organisations to go in the right direction. It’s important to know that it’s a process and it involves all of your team. Here is some advice from our CEO:

  • Seek feedback and different viewpoints by questioning your assumptions.
  • Make sure that your projects are diverse and inclusive by checking the design process. 
  • Develop a culture of accountability and transparency. It can start with revising all programs and internal communication.
  • Promote role models, champions and sponsor women.