Proven Strategies for Addressing Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

Consider this: Less than 15% of American men are over six foot tall, yet almost 60% of corporate CEOs are over six foot tall. Less than 4% of American men are over six foot, two inches tall, yet more than 36% of corporate CEOs are over six foot, two inches tall.1 Why does this happen? Clearly corporate boards of directors do not, when conducting a CEO search, send out a message to “get us a tall guy,” and yet the numbers speak for themselves. In fact, when corrected for age and gender, an inch of height is worth approximately $789 per year in salary!2 Similar patterns are true for Generals and Admirals in the Military, and even for Presidents of the United States. The last elected President whose height was below average was William McKinley in 1896, and he was “ridiculed in the press as ‘a little boy.’” 3
It seems not only unfair, but patently absurd to choose a CEO because of height, just like it is unfair and absurd to give employees lower performance evaluations solely because they are overweight. Or to prescribe medical procedures to people more often because of their race. Or to treat the same people different ways because of their clothing. Or even to call on boys more often than girls when they raise their hands in school. And yet, all of these things continuously happen, and they are but a small sampling of the hundreds of ways we make decisions every day in favor of one group, and to the detriment of others, without even realizing we’re doing it.