By Autumn Manning

There’s good news and bad news about diversity in the workplace today. I always like to get the bad news out of the way so we can focus on the good, so here it goes: you’re not as open-minded as you think you are.

Unfortunately, there is still a LOT of unconscious bias in the workplace. Unconscious bias is the social assumption or stereotype we assign to people without even knowing it. The fact is, as humans we’re programmed to organize social words by categorizing based on past experiences. When we buddy-up with an office mate because they remind us of someone we know; when we assume the man in the room is the CEO; or when we figure someone of a different race speaks a certain language – these are all examples of unconscious bias.

And that’s okay.

It becomes a problem when we don’t recognize these biases and don’t shift our behavior. This happens frequently during the hiring process, in internal meetings or after work socializing. We automatically make assumptions about the way someone is based on race, age, gender or other characteristics and assume those assumptions to be true, without getting to know an individual. Then, we often let those assumptions dictate the way we act in certain situations or treat certain people. Unconscious bias like this is forcing minority groups like women, people of color and people with disabilities to bend their work styles to operate in a majority-dominated work environment. Talk about working in confinement!

Ok, so onto the good news: we’re doing something about it and companies large and small in all industries are addressing this issue head-on by educating their workforce about the importance of diversity. One campaign worth noting is Google’s a couple years back after they were called out for the lack of diversity in their staff.

Additionally, diversity and healthy workplaces are the focus of several SXSW sessions this week. I attended a panel on “Shedding Light on Hidden Bias” Saturday morning, which pulled in commentary from folks like VP of Inclusion at Pixar Britta Wilson.

This goes to show that companies are beginning to realize diversity is directly related to culture and creativity. Diverse teams, which include a wide range of backgrounds, workstyles and personalities, are not only more informed about a given subject but excel in producing original, quality work. And when it comes to bottom-line performance, you tell me what company doesn’t want (need) a culture with more original and quality work.

The solution to addressing unconscious bias is straightforward: Get to know your different team members. Watch and listen for things they’re passionate about and things they excel at, then recognize and reward that thing they do like no one else can. And send the message (read: say it!) that inclusion is not only about including people like yourself.

About Autumn Manning

Autumn Manning is one of the happiest CEO’s in the world. She spends her days surrounded by a smart team at YouEarnedIt and combines her background in behavioral psychology, human capital management, and building corporate culture to create the world’s best employee engagement software. LinkedIn Twitter YouEarnedIt

About YouEarnedIt

YouEarnedIt is the employee experience platform that scales the core of an organization’s culture. As companies evolve, champions for the employee experience need a solution that appreciates and adapts to what makes their culture unique. In one trailblazing platform, YouEarnedIt provides real-time recognition, transformational behavior bonuses, continuous feedback, and actionable analytics to deliver an unmatched employee experience and a powerful return on investment. When people feel connected to core values and one another, cultures and organizations thrive — because YouEarnedIt. Visit for more information or schedule a quick demo here.

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Autumn Manning