Unconscious Bias


Left to Right: Sonya, Megan, Martha, Linda, Alia, Sujatha

FountainBlue’s November 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of Overcoming Unconscious Bias. Our panelists represented a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds, yet they had much in common.

  • Each are intelligent, driven, flexible and competent enough to excel in a corporate environment while remaining business-focused and people-centric.
  • Each are committed to sharing their best practices, in the interest of supporting the larger community.
  • Each has the self-awareness and confidence to address and confront their own unconscious biases, and stoically plod on the self-improvement journey, while supporting others with theirs.

They shared their advice with wisdom, insight and humor.

  • Be slow to judge, quick to support.
  • Be actively thinking, actively listening to what’s said and what’s meant.
  • Look closely, judge kindly.
  • Reflection and introspection help people get grounded and centered.
  • Take all the help you can get to manage your own unconscious biases – whether it’s through your company, your trusted board of advisers, your school and community, etc.,
  • Choose to be the bigger person when you are the one being judged. Consistently build that brand of taking the high road. Deliver with your results.
  • Recruit others to support you in overcoming biases, conscious and conscious.
  • Watch your language. Manage your filters. 
  • Pick your battles. Address the mid-term and long-term goals. The short term battles are difficult to win, especially when the biases aren’t conscious, when the judgements run deep.
  • Know what you can influence and what you can’t influence. Accept what you can’t influence – (at least not in the short term.)
  • Watch the packaging – how you dress, look and act may have others judging you favorably or unfavorably. Aim not to offend.
  • Have honest conversations with yourself about any biases you might have.
  • Immerse yourself in uncomfortable situations and circumstances so that you can better understand those who are not-like-you.
  • Spell out how others are categorized and considered for hiring and promotion. Is it fair and just? Is it generating the diverse results you say you’re seeking?
  • Create processes which would help others fairly consider all options.
  • Watch the exceptions that you’re making, to ensure that those exceptions are fairly distributed.

In the end, we concluded that it’s hard to be open to your own biases when you don’t know that you have them, or what they are. Assume that you do. That everyone does.

You can only manage your own journey, and support others as they manage theirs.

Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s November 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of Overcoming Unconscious Bias and our gracious hosts at Aruba HPE.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Alia Ayub, Vice President of Tax, Lam Research
  • Panelist Megan Cheek, Head of Human Resources, Anatomage
  • Panelist Sujatha Mandava, VP of Product Management, Aruba HPE
  • Panelist Sonya Pelia, CMO, Cira Apps Limited
  • Panelist Martha Ryan, Executive Director Business Transformation, Maxim

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