Unconscious bias can create barriers that greatly impact women in the workplace. That’s why the first step in the Paradigm for Parity® coalition 5-Point Action Plan encourages companies to minimize or eliminate unconscious bias. AEP, Eastman and Juniper Networks are three companies that are working to help employees understand and address their own biases.

Karen Ashley, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer of American Electric Power, discusses the company’s Inclusive Leadership workshops to help employees understand their own biases.

“In keeping with our continued efforts to cultivate a culture of inclusion and to provide leaders with a safe place to explore concepts of diversity and inclusion, which is feedback gleaned from our 2018 Listening Tour, American Electric Power (AEP) has launched an Inclusive Leadership Education and Awareness initiative focusing on all levels of leadership. We have partnered with Delta Concepts Consulting, Inc. to facilitate Inclusive Leadership (Unconscious Bias Management) workshops throughout the enterprise. The first session was attended by our Executive Council. Additional sessions are currently underway; cascading throughout our leadership ranks. We have set a 2019 leadership completion goal of 90%.

“The workshop is targeted toward disrupting biased decision-making patterns in talent management and accomplishes. During the session, participants unpack components of their background that have formed their biases, experientially learn how those biases influence their decision making, directly confront their organization’s prevalent biases which inhibit inclusion, and face the reality of how their unconscious biases prevent the full utilization of their talent.

“We are excited about this initiative and look forward to it positively impacting our culture.”

Mark Costa, Board Chair & CEO of Eastman, highlights how unconscious bias training is helping the company diversify its leadership team.

“We’re growing a powerfully diverse workforce with increasingly diverse talents, perspectives and experiences that bring the best ideas to the table, and that’s exceptionally important for how we’re going to exceed in the world. We continue to transform gender diversity at the leadership level by putting a focus on mitigating unconscious bias and making intentional developmental investments to accelerate the readiness of women for leadership roles. I’m proud of the fact that the rate of women being promoted within professional and management roles at Eastman continues to increase, and we’re consistently hitting our gender targets for new hires.”

Stacey Clark Ohara, the Global Head, Juniper Foundation/Inclusion & Diversity for Juniper Networks shares the steps the company is taking to implement the coalitions Action Plan, including unconscious bias training.

“Since joining the Paradigm for Parity® coalition, Juniper has made significant strides toward implementing elements of the 5-Point Action Plan.

“In December, we’re releasing for the first time our gender diversity numbersfor global employees, technical employees and leadership (directors and above). To improve our numbers moving forward, we’ve developed a five-part strategy to invest in and support inclusion and diversity at Juniper:

1. Sponsoring internal talent

2. Refining our recruiting practices

3. Minimizing unconscious bias

4. Creating greater transparency

5. Committing to pay parity

“We’ve instituted a global sponsorship program to invest in our strategy and advance the next generation of women leaders at Juniper. Our goal is to drive greater development, visibility and growth opportunities for these talented women. We have a very intentional plan that includes development plans, 360 annual assessment, leadership development and coaching, community building, access to thought leaders and regular/direct engagement with our CEO and the extended CEO staff.

“Finally, our Inclusion & Diversity team has instituted a mandatory unconscious bias training program for all Juniper employees, from the CEO staff to new hires. Everyone is required to take the course in early 2019. Training will be repeated yearly.”