Are we creating a ‘Tick in the Box Culture’ in the name of eliminating biases at the workplace?

With the advent of technology and more recently Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Human Resources, I have noticed a lot of HR processes are now getting ‘Automated’ and human judgment and decisions are being replaced by algorithms and software.

In the name of eradicating biases, processes like talent acquisition, performance management and the like are more and more being left to templates, questionnaires, series of tests and algorithms with human judgement having little or no place at all. It is not uncommon to see administrators scrambling around at the last minute to make sure all the forms and templates are completed before a major audit. Creating what I call a ‘Tick in the Box’ Culture. Most of this is done with the intention to ridding HR processes of ‘Human Bias’ and in an attempt to make processes transparent to the maximum.

I believe no matter how hard we try, human beings will always remain products of emotions, feelings, past and present experiences and all these; biases if you would like to call them will be there when human beings make judgments whether we realize it or not. I have always wondered what is wrong with human bias? And do we need to take away tasks from human beings and relegate it to machines and algorithms just to mitigate it? Over the years I have learned that as human beings we can never get rid both conscious and unconscious bias. It is there to stay. What we can definitely do is become aware of it and the more we become aware of it the more we are in control when we are making decisions.

Most people today do not want to engage in conscious bias. Neuroscientists estimate that 98% of brain activity is unconscious, which is why despite all our best intentions bias will always be there. Debiasing is impossible to achieve absolutely, but we can make improvements in degrees. Developing our self-awareness and taking ownership of our debiasing is essential to gradually become more inclusive in our outlook and interactions.

For me, the secret to becoming aware of my biases is in deep self-awareness and the constant pursuit of knowledge. Self-awareness is never easy, it needs a lot of patience, effort and reflection. The more I am able to reflect and introspect my decision-making process the more I have been able to control my biases.

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