Nobody in your organization is more likely to trigger a discrimination in the workplace lawsuit than your managers and supervisors. But here’s a simple question you might not have asked yourself:
Which manager is LEAST likely to cause a discrimination lawsuit?
A. One who believes she’s free of prejudice and unlikely to make decisions based on bias?
B. One who acknowledges that she has biases and fears she may act on them?
I think the correct answer is B. You REDUCE lawsuit risk when you recognize that we’re all programmed by our DNA to have biases. Being partial to what’s familiar is a survival instinct we all inherited to some degree from our prehistoric ancestors. We may not be able to change that, but we CAN commit to not making decisions based on these biases.
There’s no sense denying our biases. Instead, be aware of them, challenge them, and don’t make employment decisions based on them. Here’s a simple decision-making model that will help managers prevent bias lawsuits. Before making any decision regarding an employee, ask:
- Will this decision adversely affect the employee? If yes, go to question 2.
- Is the employee in a protected class? If yes, go to question 3.
- What potential biases, conscious or unconscious, could affect my judgment (e.g., gender, disability, race, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, maybe something else)?
- Am I doing this for the right reasons, or is one of my biases influencing this decision?
This kind of self-scrutiny will help you make the right decisions.
photo credit: planetc1
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