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Eliminating Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

By, The Say Foundation Team
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Unconscious biases are unintentional biases formed in people's minds based on quick thought patterns from a familiar experience in their past. These biases can be with regard to various aspects, like race, colour, caste or ability.

Research shows that “Persons with Disabilities” is the group that faces the highest amount of unconscious bias as compared to the other groups.

While about 15% of people in the world today live with some form of disability, so does the prejudice that they are atypical.

That’s 1 Billion+. Let that sink in. Slowly.

This bias is especially evident in the workplace, with employers often doubting the abilities of Persons with Disabilities, which is based solely on the disability rather than the potential of the person.

Hence, it becomes a primary responsibility of employers - especially CEOs and similar leadership roles/ management teams - to ensure that disabilities are not a barrier to employment and to eliminate all prevalent workplace biases.

Here are some ways to eradicate the existence of unconscious biases against persons with disabilities (PwDs):

  • Accept that we all have biases: The first step to overcoming an unconscious bias is accepting it exists. Once we are aware of the bias, we can do something to fix our behaviour.
  • Be an ally: Support a person with disability if you notice that they are being treated unfairly based on their disability, by speaking up and advocating for them.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations for PwDs: Ensure accommodations are provided at the workplace in terms of facilities, equipment or tools, to enable the individual to complete a job as efficiently and seamlessly as possible. These accommodations should be made available right from the recruitment stage.
  • Conduct sensitization programs for all employees: Unconscious bias sessions should be a mandatory part of your training programs to help educate and engage the workforce to create a more inclusive workplace.
  • Monitor your behaviour: Refrain from making assumptions on behalf of the person with the disability. Ensure you have your facts right before making decisions for them.
  • Increase your interaction with PwDs: It is not uncommon to feel a bit uncertain talking to Persons with Disabilities fearing that we may say something offensive or hurtful.

Persons with Disabilities are no different from People without Disabilities, so it is a good practice to speak to them, in the same manner, you would with anyone else. They just expect the same treatment that you would expect when someone talks to you. Respect.

The more you interact with them, the easier it gets to view them without the lens of bias.

  • Apologise if you get it wrong: Lastly, it’s okay to get it wrong - as long as you intend to make it right.

There is a need for more role models to be present in workplaces for Persons with Disabilities.

Acknowledging barriers and removing them should be of utmost priority when it comes to eliminating unconscious bias, and making the workplace an inclusive setting for everyone.

In conclusion, eliminate the bias, and not the opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.

Reach out!

If you or your organization need help in laying out a roadmap to eliminate this unconscious bias in your organization as well as implementing the roadmap to make the PwDs more inclusive, let us know - contactus@thesayfoundation.com 

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