- Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults in a Deloitte survey said they had experienced bias in the workplace within the past year. The company surveyed 3,000 adults employed full-time at large businesses as part of a report. Among those workers who experienced bias, 83% said behavior and comments were both subtle and indirect in nature, which Deloitte said could be characterized as microaggressions.
- When asked how they responded to bias they experienced or witnessed, only 29% of respondents said they spoke up, while 34% said they ignored it. Besides the effect bias had on their productivity and engagement at work, 84% of respondents said bias negatively affected their overall happiness, well-being and confidence. Although Deloitte's report found most employees surveyed feel as though they can be themselves at work and that their organizations are inclusive, the company found a disconnect between employee expectations and employers' efforts to be inclusive, it said.
- A separate Deloitte report found that millennial workers have a distinct viewpoint on diversity and inclusion compared to non-millennials. Millennials tend to focus on respecting identities and unique experiences when defining diversity and inclusion, Deloitte said, while non-millennials tend to emphasize representation and equality.
Deloitte's report on inclusion cited the top three types of biases that respondents said they saw most often were those based on age, gender and race or ethnicity. The company focused on victims of workplace bias, but employers must also craft policies that discuss the role of those who perpetrate bias — in addition to bystanders who fail to speak up. Multiple employers have recently faced accusations of workplace polices and company culture, including Facebook, where an African American former manager accused the company of "failing its black employees."
Part of the impetus for addressing the problem is one of compliance. Employers might look to training that covers anti-discrimination laws including Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and/or national origin.
But the cultural component of bias also matters. Organizations that value diversity may also need to be prepared for push-back on such initiatives, as has happened in a few high-profile cases. Bias left unchecked can create hostile work environments that sometimes force employees to leave. Bias is inescapable regardless of who one is, experts have previously told HR Dive, but there are steps that employers can take to address biases.
Deloitte said in its report that employers may need to develop different tactics for keeping microaggressions in check. These subtle expressions of bias frequently go unnoticed, and perpetrator's intent may be difficult to prove, but HR can engage with managers to identify problematic behaviors and improve investigative procedures. Managers who demonstrate a willingness to confront microaggressions can be an effective part of preventing bias and harassment, an attorney told attendees at the Society for Human Resource Management's 2019 annual conference.