Use this new Slack plug-in to combat unconscious bias in the workplace
By: Victoria Rodriguez
Aggressive, bossy, dramatic. Chances are, if you're a woman, you've heard these words used to describe — and demean — you or a coworker.
That needs to change. To alter the way people think and talk about ambitious women, the global nonprofit Catalyst, with the help of New York-based agency Burns Group and technology company Eskalera, launched the #BiasCorrect plug-in and campaign, which aims to combat unconscious bias in the workplace by flagging problematic words employees write in Slack and other chat platforms. Similar to spell-check, the tool highlights words like "cold" and "aggressive" and then recommends alternatives, such as "focused" and "persuasive."
It's a simple word change, but Catalyst believes it can have great effects. Because even the most progressive people demonstrate unconscious bias, Catalyst says the best approach is to help individuals learn how to identify it, and consequently, create a more equal workplace.
"Catalyst’s studies show that unconscious gender bias is one of the major roadblocks preventing women’s advancement. And because it’s unconscious, most of us don’t even realize we’re perpetuating the problem," representatives from Catalyst and Burns Group, said in an email.
Companies who want to improve workplace culture and promote gender equality have the option to download the tool to Slack or adapt the code for other chat platforms — where casual work conversations sometimes perpetuate gender inequality and stereotypes.
"In these forums, it’s easy to vent and label people," explained Catalyst and Burns Group, who developed the campaign's social media. "The #BiasCorrect Plug-In provides a highly personal and private reminder that words matter."
The tool is private because it was designed to make people feel encouraged, not shameful, according to Catalyst and Burns Group representatives. It addresses the issue without coming off as "preachy."
Women aren't "bossy." We're the boss. Words matter, and being aware of gender bias in the way we relate to each other can make workplaces—and the world—better for everyone. Visit http://catalyst.org/biascorrect for tools to #BiasCorrect. #IWD19
Meanwhile, individual women who want to support the initiative can join Catalyst's social media campaign, developed in partnership with Burns Group, by uploading a picture of themselves here and selecting a derogatory word that has been used to describe them in the workplace. The result will look similar to Hillary Clinton's recent "bossy" tweet, pictured above.
"Words matter, and being aware of gender bias in the way we relate to each other can make workplaces—and the world—better for everyone," Clinton wrote on Twitter. Hopefully, we're one step closer to making this awareness a reality.