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May 9th, 2022

How to Empower Employees at Work




As part of its commitment to helping companies to assess equity, BiasSync has launched a series of virtual conversations. These conversations are an opportunity for organizations to optimize their diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) efforts using science-based solutions for immediate, tangible action. The December program addressed employee empowerment as a way to advance DEIA objectives through the lens of mitigating unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias, also known as implicit bias, is an attitude or perception about others that happens without being aware of it. In the workplace it can happen when people rush to judgment about people based on past experience, messaging received from other people and stereotypes. Such bias interferes with having an inclusive environment where all employees feel respected and included.Inlcusion is the first step toward empowerment, which is associated with stronger job performance, job satisfaction, and commitment to the organization.

Statistics show that individuals rank their experience in a workplace as it pertains to inclusiveness higher than they do their paycheck, even their title, Michele Ruiz, CEO of BiasSync, explained. She added that disengaged employees in the United States cost businesses a staggering $550 billion a year.

“Employees join companies as whole beings “wanting to be engaged, to be seen, to be heard, to not just punch a clock and get a paycheck,” according to Diana Tate Vermeire, J.D., Senior Vice President of Strategy at the Schott Foundation, at a webinar on mitigating the impact of unconscious bias in the workplace to achieve equity.

“They need to have a connection to the workplace. Engaging employees is creating a space where they can care and feel and be part of how an organization works and operates, and do so bringing themselves to the dynamic, to the conversation, and to the dialogue.”

As Crystal Miller, Ph.D., Chief Learning Officer and Organizational Strategist at BiasSync, pointed out, there is a difference between empowered and engaged. Not feeling seen, heard or aligned with the values of the organization can lead to mental health, wellness and anxiety issues, which can, in turn, have repercussions for the whole organization. There are three levels of inclusiveness. Engagement is being aligned with the mission of the organization at passive levels. Involvement is the active pursuit of excellence or enactment or fulfillment of the organization’s mission. Empowerment is holding the ideals of oneself and the organization and exercising challenging, enriching, courageous conversations.

“Empowered employees feel that their voice matters,” according to Ruiz, but, as Vermeire pointed out, leaders have to be ready to have an empowered team. There can be a disconnect between what is said about the corporate culture, the desire to create equity in that culture and the tools to make it happen. Legal compliance for diversity/equity/inclusion/accessibility may not always assure a welcoming and inclusive workplace. Some people in the organization are not convinced that there is an equity problem, but some people feel unseen and unheard, because they think they are being marginalized based on their identity.

What to do about empowerment

“Employee empowerment is proactive, intentional and modeled over time,” Vermeire said.

The experts agreed that company leaders have to create a space for engagement and then act on what they hear. They have to be ready to do the engagement, be prepared for resistance, analyze the results and provide transparency and responsiveness. It is ongoing work with a steep learning curve for some people.

Specific steps for organizational leaders to create inclusiveness

• Create an open environment where there can be an active dialogue • Listen to the dialogue • Respond to the dialogue • Realize that people cannot achieve empowerment by themselves • Model transparency in the organization • Address pushback • Offer the vision for an equitable environment

“Take time to take employees with you on a journey to foster an inclusive workplace,” Miller summarized.

How BiasSync can help

BiasSync offers a behavioral approach, incorporating a willingness to change behavior and information on creating micro habits in employees. There is a proprietary organizational audit for every level of equity to consider in the organization and accountability metrics around where a company needs to be in its equity process.

How you can be part of the solution of mitigating unconscious bias

Watch the full discussion, and learn more about mitigating unconscious bias to empower employees.

Not just diversity. Inclusion.

Diversity is not just about numbers. It’s about people’s experiences in the workplace. If you’re ready to understand how bias impacts your company—with data to make effective changes, contact us now.