Slack wants to build a platform to uncover gender and racial bias online
- Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield announced the rolling out of new products by the company to find out if digital communication changes when people speak with others from dissimilar backgrounds, namely gender, race, ethnicity and culture, Quartz reports. Butterfield says the goal is to help workplaces become more inclusive and employees more effective and efficient.
- Gender bias is pervasive online, says Quartz, citing comments from women across the country who say men use an authoritative communication style to dominate digital conversations, just as they do in face-to-face meetings. By contrast, women tend to be more collaborative and supportive in their communication styles. Linguist Susan Herring says men tend to "digital manspread," whether in text messages, listservs or on social media.
- Slack is developing personal analytic tools to expose communication bias, but concerns about data privacy still exist.
One of the major concerns about the implementation of AI in the workplace is whether unconscious bias that already exists in the workplace will extend to those technology tools and extend that bias further. Some of these technologies, however, may also be able to prevent or limit unconscious bias. Virtual reality (VR) has emerged as one strong contender to help eliminate bias in management.
Employers who want to know whether their organization has deep-rooted, systemic problems have to institute feedback programs that allow workers from under-represented groups to talk about their experiences and their perceptions of coworkers, managers and subordinates. Employee resource groups tend to be a good place to start, as they create natural communication lines between leadership and certain groups in the employee base.
Just as employers have zero-tolerance policies for discriminatory conduct in the workplace, they must also extend those policies to all digital channels used for work. Eradication of bias requires an employer to look at all of their processes, from hiring to promotions to how superiors manage their direct reports.