How Google Plans To Conquer Its Unconscious Biases

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Google’s diversity numbers in 2014 were less than impressive.  Overall 70% of the company was male and 61% was white.  Asians made up 30% with African-Americans pulling up the rear in a tiny 2% caboose.  To increase the thin number of minorities, Google is having an estimated 60,000 of its employees undergo training to combat the unconscious biases that plague us all. google-485611_640

Business Insider was permitted to publish the slide deck for Google’s diversity training.  Here are a few key takeaways.

  • We consciously process only 40 bits of the 11 million bits of information we receive every moment
  • 99.99% of information we receive is unconsciously processed.
  • Companies with higher proportions of board directors that were women outperformed others by 53%
  • Diverse teams out perform others, especially when handling complex problems
  • Structured job interviews increase fairness, efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Traits for good managers are overwhelmingly associated with men than with women.
  • Asking for feedback on hires or promotions can increase diversity
  • Socializing with a more diverse group increases the amount of information to which you have access
  • We all have biases.

The overall picture is that diversity is good but we are pretty bad at recognizing and ignoring our unconscious biases. Google recommends the following to their employees to combat this.

  • Use structured interviews which give all job candidates a fair shot. As a proponent of video interviewing, I have seen personally how video interviewing’s structured interview process reduces discrimination.
  • Collect data to measure progress and spot patterns of bias. For instance in 2013 Google discovered that 77% of its homepage Doodles celebrated the birthdays of famous male leaders and innovators.  In 2014 they made sure to evenly split their celebrations of men and women.
  • Hold yourself and others accountable.  Get feedback on your decisions. Call out others’ decisions.  Make decisions as a group.  A good example of group decision making is collaboration on reviewing the video interviews of job candidates during the hiring process.  This allows other genders and ethnicities to voice their opinions.

Research is continuing to prove that a more colorful workforce is better than any one color alone.  Look outside your office window!  Notice anything missing?

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