Panelists and audience members at the bias and inclusion panel event in San Francisco

Panelists and audience at the event on bias and inclusivity, organized by Women in Wireless’ San Francisco chapter.

By Amanda Rowles, Head of San Francisco Chapter

At Women in Wireless, we seek opportunities to empower our members with actionable takeaways that they can implement in their own lives. After speaking with several diversity advocates working at large Bay Area companies, we knew the conversation around how to address bias in the workplace was something our members could benefit from.

The truth is, even though it may not be intentional or an overt prejudice, everyone carries a form of unconscious bias. This prejudice applies to  gender and race, as well as less visible attributes such as age, income, job title, marital status, etc.

To bring more awareness to this topic, we brought together a panel of female leaders from Walmart, Salesforce, and SurveyMonkey to discuss their personal experiences combating bias throughout their careers. We also hosted a mini-workshop lead by LifeLabs Learning following the panel, so attendees could leave with a playbook to implement proactive solutions at their own companies. Check out some of our favorite takeaways from the night!

Slide from the bias and inclusion training reading 'This topic is uncomfortable'.

Despite expectations, addressing our biases doesn’t have to be awkward.

Panelists: Kate Pearson, VP Digital Acceleration @ Walmart; Sarah Din, Sr. Product Manager @ SurveyMonkey; Melissa Sandgren, formerly Diversity & Inclusion at Yahoo!; Lindsey Siegel, Global Program Manager Cultivate Equality @ Salesforce.

Moderator/Facilitator: McKendree Hickory, PhD @ LifeLabs Learning.

(1)  Bake inclusivity into all trainings, not just one-off company interventions that communicate the new policy or corporate stance on an issue. For example, hiring managers should write inclusive job descriptions and avoid asking interview questions that may further their own bias, while someone on the sales team should understand how their bias may affect their communication with potential clients.

(2)  Have diverse models and mentors represented on leadership teams and boards. Executives and managers that ‘look like me’ are very empowering to employees. Try to make sure the diversity of your workforce is represented at the highest levels of leadership. This applies at an individual level as well – think about whose opinions you value most when making big life-changing decisions. If your network only reflects individuals who more or less ‘look’ just like you (same age, gender, race, marital status, political party, etc.) you should be aware and might want to open yourself up to more diverse opinions.

(3)  Form a diversity council at your workplace. Ideally, this group should be made up of people that are passionate about diversity and inclusion and want to own the training and implementation of corporate policy. This includes creating allies within your company and inviting them to be a part of the council as well as encouraging participation from the executive team.

An attendee at the San Francisco chapter bias and inclusivity event.

Sponsors Branch and CloudFlare provided the food, drink and venue.

Lastly, our panelists consistently reminded us that combating bias does not have to be a negative experience – remember that those around you are human, just like you, and we can all benefit from trying to find common ground.

Our events are made possible with the support of our sponsors – we thank Branch and CloudFlare for aligning with our mission and providing our members with food, wine and a space to connect!