Everyone has biases, said inclusive leadership expert Melissa Majors during a PCMA Midwest Chapter DEI education event in September.
“If you have a brain, you’re biased,” said Majors, founder and CEO of the consulting firm, Melissa Majors Consulting. Biases are a threat-protection mechanism humans have always had, she said, but “the most inclusive leaders don’t deny those biases exist — they embrace their biases.”
Majors discussed each of the seven habits she presents in her book, The 7 Simple Habits of Inclusive Leaders, and how leaders, by incorporating inclusive practices, inspire higher performance levels from their teams and drive much higher profitability.
She also offered audience members three steps they can follow to mindfully mitigate their own biases. They are:
- Examine your thoughts. Unconscious thoughts will occur, but humans are able to analyze them. “Ask yourself: ‘Did they earn my distrust? If not, my biases are probably influencing me,’” Majors said. “The word ‘earn’ is the litmus test in whether you are judging someone fairly for their character or because of your biases.”
- Identify your patterns of bias. Pay attention to “those little voices that pop into your head” when you’re interacting with people different from you, she said. You may learn you are biased toward a group of people and overcome it.
- Plan your next steps. Then, Majors suggests, hold the thought: “I will mindfully choose to view and treat them equally, just like I do others.”
Curt Wagner is digital editor at Convene.