Archive for October 2015

Addressing Unconscious Bias in the Tech Industry

The tech industry has come under scrutiny for its lack of diversity. While there are some prominent women in the industry, such as Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) and Melissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo!), the industry is dominated by males. Moreover, few people in tech are Latino or African American.

Major tech companies have woken up to this and are taking steps to become more inclusive. Recently, Sheryl Sandberg announced that Facebook is sharing part of its new training program on unconscious bias. In her announcement, Sandberg wrote, “Managing bias is an essential part of building diverse and high-performing organizations. We know we still have a long way to go, but by helping people recognize and correct for bias, we can take a step towards equality – at work, at home and in everyday life.”

The presentation portions of Facebook’s training program are available online at managingbias.fb.com. The training program is divided into seven short modules, which should be watched in sequence:

1. Welcome
2. Introductions and First Impressions
3. Stereotypes and Performance Bias
4. Performance Attribution Bias
5. Competence/Likeability Tradeoff Bias
6. Maternity Bias
7. Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion and What You Can Do

Facebook recommends that before you view the presentation modules, you take an implicit assumption test (IAT) to explore your unconscious biases. Project Implicit at Harvard has over a dozen different tests you can take, on anything from gender, race and sexual orientation to weight, religion and disability. Each test takes less than 10 minutes. To take an IAT, go to https://implicit.harvard.edu/. One the opening screen, select the second option on the left to continue as a guest.

Google has also been addressing unconscious bias with training of its own. In the following video, Dr. Brian Welle, Google’s Director of People Analytics, discusses how unconscious bias works at Google and how the company is interrupting.