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Leveraging Conscious Inclusion for DEI Impact




Conscious inclusion is the deliberate effort to move forward from unconscious bias to constructive mitigation, according to Dr. Crystal Miller, chief learning officer and organizational strategist for BiasSync, specializing in inclusive leadership.

Individuals who make up organizations are often in autopilot mode, unconscious of the biases that impact how they look at people, how they talk to people, or who they include in conversations.

According to Dr. Emilio Ulloa, professor of psychology and program director at San Diego State University Department of Education, "The foundation of understanding what our unconscious biases are leads us to the next step, which is to do something about it and to be intentional about understanding where these biases are. If we do so with intention, we start to see where we make conscious efforts to make changes and develop policies. Now we realize you need tools. You need examples, and you need practice. You need to identify ways in which you can restructure your institution or your organization so that you prevent those biases from having a negative impact on those within your organization."

Conscious Inclusion in the Workplace

Humility is important in accepting the need for training and change, even in the most mundane processes. For instance, when conducting performance audits, managers need to realize that they may use different criteria for describing and thus evaluating men and women. People discover places where they can make a difference that would not occur to them unless they "had devoted time to doing the audit or the assessment with this new lens, with this new language and this new perspective," according to Ulloa. Gibson added that an organization "may be getting diversity, but if biases are there, you won't retain it."

Best practices for mitigating bias include going beyond traditional training or awareness-building to include regular behavioral interventions, frequent reminders, and refreshers.

Dr. Miller explained that BiasSync provides monthly microlearnings with four- to five-minute videos specific to conscious inclusion behaviors. Experts prompt them on the questions that stimulate self-reflection, so they can take an assessment and learn their biases. When there is resistance, it is important to engage in humility and to use conscious inclusion training to remind people of their biases.

Mitigating Bias

Savvy organizations also support conscious inclusion and bias mitigation by auditing internal processes – such as those that support recruitment efforts or event planning – and by assessing the organization’s levels of inclusion and belonging. 

Recruiting and hiring processes are important. Search committees should have bias training at a base level, and inclusion representatives need to be members of each search committee. As Dr. Gibson said, "What are you doing in your personal life to diversify your friendship circles? What are you reading? What are you watching on TV to counteract your biases so that you don't inadvertently commit a microaggression when you go to work? Once you bring the personal and the professional together, you may have more diversity in your recruitment because you diversified your friendship circles."

When planning events, have an intentional conversation around who is included, how people are invited, what the goals are, and whether leaders are engaging in it in a way that makes sense, that is inclusive, and that is sensitive to not only the goals around this specific event but the institutional goals around diversity and inclusion as well. When people attend events, be sure that verbal and nonverbal cues welcome everyone and that people can show up as they are.

It is also helpful to assess the organizational climate for whether individuals feel a sense of belonging, a sense of ownership, a shared governance of some sort, and a sense of agency regarding their ability to impact the organization. Likewise, senior leaders should attend workshops and trainings to underscore their commitment to conscious inclusion efforts.

As a scientifically-validated SaaS solution, BiasSync specializes in helping organizations measure, assess, and mitigate the negative impacts of unconscious bias. Our engaging training curriculum draws on positive psychology and behavior change methodology for increased retention and impact. Our proprietary data and analytics help organizations understand where they are and where they need to go – from "state-of-the-state" indicators to granular insights.

If you are interested in learning more about BiasSync, we encourage you to contact our team. For more information on conscious inclusion in the workplace, we encourage you to watch the webinar or join us for one of our upcoming expert-led virtual conversations.

Updated: 11/2022

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.