Read Google’s checklist research
Research shows that empowering employees to voice their opinions supports inclusion and perceptions of fairness. Google ran a controlled experiment to test whether giving managers an unbiasing checklist changed their perceptions of fairness and voice in calibration committee meetings, where managers discuss and evaluate the performance of their employees.
Managers were randomly assigned to one of three conditions:
- Managers were emailed the unbiasing checklist in advance of the meeting.
- Managers were emailed the unbiasing checklist in advance and meeting leaders gave out hard copies, encouraging participants to call out unconscious bias when they noticed it.
- Managers experienced no changes (control).
Results were complex. When the checklist was simply emailed to managers prior to the meeting they actually perceived significantly less fairness than managers who did not receive the checklist. Why? The hypothesis is that the “ignorance is bliss” effect occurred - when educated about unconscious bias, managers became more likely to see it in themselves and others. However, when participants were given printed handouts of the checklist (condition two), they reported significantly greater perceptions of fairness, as they were given the “right” to call out unconscious bias and the tools to do so effectively.
Education, action, and a platform to call out unconscious bias are a powerful combination Google uses to inform unbiasing strategies.