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更新时间:2014-1-27 14:23:34 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

Bringing Hidden Biases Into the Light

Everyone has hidden biases. For Denise Russell Fleming, a vice president at BAE Systems Inc., they include overlooking quieter colleagues during meetings. 'I may have not made the best decisions' because of inadequate input from introverts, she says, adding that she tends to favor more talkative personalities.

As they struggle to diversify their workforces, big businesses are teaching staffers to recognize that 'unconscious bias' -- or an implicit preference for certain groups -- often influences important workplace decisions.

BAE, a major defense contractor, is among the growing number of U.S. corporations offering training programs aimed at overcoming these hidden biases. As many as 20% of large U.S. employers with diversity programs now provide unconscious-bias training, up from 2% five years ago, and that figure could hit 50% in five years, says Margaret Regan, head of FutureWork Institute, a diversity consultancy.

'It is the most requested and popular diversity topic now,' says Ms. Regan, whose firm recently instructed 2,000 Microsoft Corp. managers about unconscious bias.

Everyone unwittingly favors certain types of people based on their upbringing, experience and values because human beings need bias to survive, diversity experts say. For example, you might prefer fellow graduates of your alma mater. Left unchecked on the job, though, unconscious bias can affect hiring, assignments, promotions, evaluations and dismissals.

BAE requires that all 1,600 middle managers and executives take a two-hour class about unconscious bias. The company partly credits the management training for an increase in the number of women and people of color targeted for advancement last year. Its experience also illustrates the advantages and drawbacks of the approach.

The training, designed by diversity consultants Cook Ross Inc., was aimed at getting managers to identify where bias crept into their thought processes rather than blaming anyone for the scarcity of women and minorities in top spots.

'I don't want you to feel guilty about any biases that you have,' trainer Melissa Lambert told Ms. Fleming and nine others at an Arlington, Va., class late last year.

During the next two hours, attendees watched brief videos, participated in partner exercises and discussed research summaries to understand why bosses make employment decisions that inadvertently give preference to tall individuals, thin ones, those without arm tattoos or extroverts.

'It's a blind spot,' Ms. Lambert observed. The trick is to 'hit the pause button and question things' before you act, she said.

The training also exposed some internal tension. Midway through the session, a participant complained that colleagues didn't take her seriously because she was only 24 years old.

So-called millennials, young adults born since 1981, 'don't want to work for what they get,' and they expect to move up quickly merely because they completed college, retorted Diane Parisi, a 41-year-old vice president with two young subordinates.

In the workplace, Ms. Parisi admitted afterward, the bias she expressed probably 'caused me to paint millennials with a broader negative brush than I should.'

A typical one-day course for 50 people costs an average of $2,000 to $6,000, estimates Howard Ross, founder of Cook Ross. Dow Chemical Co., Google Inc., Pfizer Inc. and PricewaterhouseCoopers have also recently trained numerous staffers to spot hidden biases.

More than 13,000 of Google's roughly 46,000 global staffers attended a workshop in 2013 that emphasized 'situations where the influence of unconscious bias might be especially bad,' such as performance reviews, a Google spokeswoman says.

Dow has trained 800 of its 4,600 managers world-wide since 2011 -- and seen the number of women in professional positions rise to 32.4% from 29.7% in that time. Unconscious-bias training played a strong role in that gain, says Johanna Soderstrom, a human-resources vice president at the large chemicals maker. At Microsoft, the training helps hold leaders 'accountable for building a diverse culture,' a spokeswoman says.

Unconscious-bias training arose from the Implied Association Test, a measure of hidden stereotypes invented in 1994 by Tony Greenwald, a University of Washington psychology professor. The online version has been taken more than 15 million times since its 1998 introduction, with most test takers showing a preference for white people, according to Brian Nosek, a co-developer.

Prof. Greenwald warns that unconscious-bias training often 'is just window dressing' that fails to alter work practices. 'You don't go to a class and next week, everything changes,' adds Linda Hudson, chief executive of BAE, the U.S. arm of BAE Systems PLC.

Nonetheless, diversity specialists say, companies that pair training with such tactics as joint interviews of applicants and requirements that candidate slates include diverse prospects tend to see faster improvement.

BAE launched its unconscious-bias training amid a multipronged push to bring more women and minorities into its managerial ranks.

Among the efforts Ms. Hudson spearheaded in 2011: A woman or a person of color now participates in interview panels for potential middle managers and executives. The hiring panels previously 'had a tendency to select white males,' recalls Bridgette A. Weitzel, BAE's chief talent officer. Between May 2011 and May 2013, BAE says, the number of women and people of color in senior management rose nearly 10%

As for Ms. Fleming, the class forced her to recognize that unconscious biases 'are part of who I am,' she remarked later.

She has begun giving her staffers advance notice about difficult meeting topics 'so there will be more time for the more introspective folks to assimilate their thoughts.' The executive also hopes to switch to 'blind' resumes -- documents without an applicant's name or address.

This idea, discussed during her training, 'sounds like a clean way of taking all the variables out,'' Ms. Fleming says. BAE says it may eventually embrace blind r谷sum谷s company-wide.

In one study of 1,250 employers, dummy r谷sum谷s with typically 'white' names received 50% more interview callbacks than those with typically 'black' names.

'The best possible person [should] come into a role without letting my unconscious biases interfere,'' Ms. Fleming concludes.

人人内心都隐藏着偏见。对于BAE Systems Inc.的副总裁丹尼斯·罗素·弗莱明(Denise Russell Fleming)来说,这些偏见包括会议期间忽视那些不那么爱发言的同事。她说,因为内向的人参与不够,“我可能没有做出最好的决定”。弗莱明说,她往往会偏向于更加健谈的人。


BAE是一家重要的国防承包商。包括它在内,越来越多的美国企业都在提供旨在克服这些隐性偏见的培训项目。多元化顾问公司FutureWork Institute负责人玛格丽特·里甘(Margaret Regan)说,设立了多元化项目的美国大型雇主当中,目前多达两成都在提供克服无意识偏见的培训,五年前这个比例只有2%,五年后则有望达到50%。

里甘说:“现在它是需求最多、也最受欢迎的多元化项目。”她的公司在前不久为微软公司(Microsoft Corp.)的2,000名管理人员提供了无意识偏见方面的指导。



多元化咨询公司Cook Ross Inc.设计的这套培训,旨在让管理人员意识到自己的思维过程中从哪个地方开始出现偏见,而不是将高管职位女性和少数族裔稀少的问题归咎于任何人。

去年年底在弗吉尼亚阿灵顿(Arlington)举办的一堂课上,培训师梅丽莎·兰伯特(Melissa Lambert)对弗莱明和另外九个人说:“我不想让你们因为自己可能拥有的某些偏见而感到内疚。”




带有两名年轻下属的41岁副总裁戴安娜·帕里西(Diane Parisi)说,1981年以来出生的所谓的千禧一代“不想就拿那点工资”,并且指望因为自己上过大学就能很快往上升。


据Cook Ross公司创始人霍华德·罗斯(Howard Ross)估计,50人的一日课程平均学费一般在2,000美元到6,000美元。陶氏化学(Dow Chemical Co.)、谷歌(Google Inc.)、辉瑞(Pfizer Inc.)和普华永道(PricewaterhouseCoopers)最近也给大量的员工进行了培训,以帮助他们发现自己的无意识偏见。


陶氏化学从2011年以来为其全球4,600名管理人员中的800人提供了培训,同一时期女性在专业岗位上的比例从29.7%上升到32.4%。这家大型化学品生产商的人力资源副总裁乔安娜·瑟德斯特伦(Johanna Soderstrom)说,无意识偏见培训在这个进步过程中发挥了重要作用。微软一位发言人说,这一培训有助于让领导人为“多元文化的打造负起责任来”。

无意识偏见培训起源于华盛顿大学(University of Washington)心理学教授托尼·格林沃尔德(Tony Greenwald)在1994年发明、用于衡量隐性成见的“隐含联想测试”(Implied Association Test)。据联合开发者布里安·诺塞克(Brian Nosek)说,该测试的网络版从1998年推出以来已经有1,500万人次参加,大多数参加测试的人都显示出了对白人的偏向。

格林沃尔德教授提醒说,无意识偏见培训常常只是“装点门面”,没有起到改变工作习惯的作用。BAE首席执行长琳达·哈德森(Linda Hudson)也说:“你不会在上了一堂课之后,第二个星期什么都变了。”(BAE Systems Inc.是英宇航系统公司(BAE Systems PLC)的美国子公司。)



哈德森2011年发起的行动包括:招聘中高层管理人员的面试小组现在要有一名女性或有色人种。BAE首席人才长布丽奇特·韦策尔(Bridgette A. Weitzel)回忆说,之前的招聘小组“倾向于挑选白种男性”,BAE表示,从2011年5月到2013年5月,高级管理层中的女性和有色人种数量增加了近10%。