As leaders, we are often required to be impartial, especially in hiring and in delegating duties.
Sometimes the best way to take bias out of the equation is to shield yourself from, well, yourself. Here are two common situations where limiting information and choices can help:
Hiring. Candidate names can cue biases related to gender, race, nationality, and more, without our even realizing it. Ask HR to replace the names on top of resumes with initials or an identification number — or do it yourself for the rest of your interview team. You can also find apps that will help you hide certain information on job applications. Consider removing names for sample projects, too.
Delegation. Let’s say you need a direct report to do something tedious, like take notes in team meetings. Rather than directly assigning it or waiting for someone to sheepishly volunteer (both of which might disproportionately place women in these mop-up duties), institute a rotating policy.
Remember, though, that not all situations call for impartiality. For instance, it may actually be unfair to ask a lone remote team member to take team-meeting notes if they already struggle to get a word in during virtual meetings. So be sure to consider mitigating factors. Also, make a point of explaining your actions. Otherwise, you could be perceived as playing favorites, when you’re actually trying to avoid doing so.