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6 Red Flags That You May Have a Workplace Bias Problem

CoAdvantage- Workplace bias is a pernicious problem. According to Statista, 61% of U.S. workers have experienced some form of workplace discrimination, with age discrimination as the most common complaint, followed closely by race- and sex-related discrimination.

Part of what makes workplace bias so hard to fight is that many times company workers and leaders simply become habituated, numb, or blind to it. However, workplace bias always leaves signs that it’s creeping around. Here are six red flags that bias might be a bigger problem than you realize at your workplace.

1: There’s no diversity among company leaders.
The most insidious thing about workplace bias is that people who aren’t directly affected by it can easily miss it, sometimes even when they’re looking for it. When leadership teams lack diverse perspectives, it increases the risk that workplace bias may go unnoticed and unfixed by leaders.

2: Confidential arbitration is used to suppress complaints of bias.
Arbitration can be a fantastic strategy for handling workplace discrimination while protecting everyone involved from unnecessary, weaponized litigation. It’s no wonder around half of the American workers have arbitration clauses in their hiring contracts. However, care must be taken to prevent its abuse as a tactic to suppress reports of misconduct and obscure issues with workplace bias that need to be corrected.

3: Tokenism is mistaken for diversity.
Most employers earnestly want to be fair-minded and equitable in their workplace, and diverse hiring is a key step in that direction. However, well-meaning companies can sometimes confuse true diversity with tokenism, believing that hiring one person (the token) from a marginalized group sufficiently diversifies their workforce. It doesn’t.

4: No resources are dedicated to diversity initiatives.
Organizations that say they favor diversifying and oppose prejudice and harassment within their walls don’t always follow through with action. If the company makes promises unsupported by actual funded initiatives, any problems related to workplace bias are likely to persist or worsen over time.

5: Workers or managers tell demographic-related “jokes.”
Bias can frequently manifest in ways that seem, on the surface, toothless; however, a pattern of demographically oriented joking or comments can indicate a more serious problem. Indeed, workers (and managers) don’t have to make outright offensive statements for there to be bias. Simply fixating on demographic characteristics – age, gender, race, sexual orientation – and then excusing comments as “jokes” or “just stating facts” can indicate subtle (or not so subtle) workplace bias has taken root.

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about CoAdvantage’s ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.