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May 30, 2019

Recognizing and Rewiring Unconscious Biases

New training equips hiring managers to make more informed and inclusive talent decisions
Miten Champaneri knows what it feels like to work around the clock. As the former operations leader at Motorola Solutions’ manufacturing facility in Elgin, Illinois, he and his team felt the pressure to build and ship orders to customers around the world. In supply chain operations, every minute counts, and there are few to spare.
While that mindset works in a manufacturing operation, he’s learned it can be problematic in other areas – such as hiring for open positions.
“I discovered I may have had a time pressure bias in some cases,” he said. “Before this training, I realized that at times, my motivation was to get someone in the door as soon as possible to help us achieve our short-term goals.”
Champaneri is one of about 100 graduates of a month-long training class that began in June 2018 designed to help hiring managers identify and overcome their unconscious biases.
Unconscious biases are beliefs about other people influenced by our own personal experiences. Because our brains process millions of conscious and unconscious thoughts per second, our unconscious biases act as shortcuts to make decision-making easier. Experts say that as a result, our unconscious biases may unintentionally short-circuit what could otherwise be a thoughtful, deliberate and inclusive hiring decision.
Champaneri said he discovered his bias during a discussion with other hiring leaders based on a case study they reviewed. The class provided him with a more objective way to approach the hiring process. Since then, it has helped him hire for two open positions.
“I’d tend to look for the qualities of the last person who held the role, rather than what we needed for the role itself,” he said. “Now I meet with key stakeholders early in the process and agree on the ‘must-haves.’ I use that as a checklist during each interview and ask the stakeholders for their opinion on whether each candidate checks those boxes. It doesn’t take that much longer, but it has led to significantly better outcomes.”
Raising awareness of our unconscious biases has been a priority since this training was introduced by our human resources team and Matt Blakely, Motorola Solutions’ director of inclusion, diversity and outreach. Their goal for the training was to help hiring managers recognize and overcome unconscious biases related to gender, race, background, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status or nationality.
“The goal is to be honest and recognize that every one of us is prone to having unconscious biases,” said Blakely. “We teach our hiring managers how to recognize theirs and equip them with tools and techniques to make more inclusive, informed and successful choices about their people.”
Learn more about our commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace.

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