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Dear Al,

Greetings from rainy Bangalore !! Thought of blogging for an initiative I have been associated with in past few product releases.

All of us think that we are pretty reasonable people and strive to be unbiased in our day to day life. But really, are we unbiased?

Let me share an incident. I attended an event this Saturday where the presenter was showcasing News and financial stock correlations and also used “Gold Price” index for same. While presenting, presenter mentioned that men probably wont know the “Gold Price” index but Indian females would definitely understand this and the craze behind it. It was supposed to be a joke, but fell flat for me. Clearly a case of unconscious bias.

I am guilty of something similar and not too proud about it. Few months back, while travelling in a flight to Chandigarh, our lady pilot announced about turbulence and my first thought was “I hope she can handle the flight”. Immediately I corrected my thought process as the  person is obviously trained for flying, has the required flight hours and obviously fit enough for pilot role. But again a case of unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias can creep in without us even realising it. It could be result of the way we have been brought up, our environment, education system, our friends and family circle, our beliefs, our society, our culture and so on. And often leads to disastrous results. In businesses, one needs to be extremely careful else one risks losing people, money, stock prices, market and reputation.

Please check some of the great blogs from my colleague Gaby .

SAP has been investing a lot in correcting this unconscious bias internally. Additionally, Its also added in our products to help customers detect unconscious bias. Please check the “SAP SuccessFactors Moves Business Beyond Bias” video recently launched at Success Connect 2017. Do check out the product features and planned enhancements mentioned. Ensuring gender-neutral language in Job Descriptions is something I find very exciting. Often we see that job descriptions would include something like “person needs to be aggressive in pushing targets”. Not a gender neutral language and many of the capable women may not even apply after looking at such job descriptions.  “Language Bias Checker” helps prevent that. Photoless calibration is another feature which would be useful at senior management level where you rate a person only for the achievements and not personal relationships. Some more exciting stuff coming up in future releases.

At the end it is an organisational culture which would need change and the tools help you towards that. SAP helps you in achieving that without any bias towards gender, race, age, sexual orientation, Location, Disabilities, Culture.

As usual, waiting for your feedback. Until next time.

Best Regards,

Priyanka

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  1. Lars Breddemann

    Hi Priyanka,

    thanks for this interesting blog. It’s a bit on the marketing side if you ask me, but hey, I take it.

    What I like to know is how SuccessFactors tackles intrinsic biases and enables the affected stakeholders to see, understand and change decisions based on those intrinsic biases. Things like candidate ranking based on ZIP code or what university was attended can double for racial profiling and are not too obvious. (good read on this https://weaponsofmathdestructionbook.com/)

    Also, how is this tool used for selecting employees for layoffs? How can one review the reasoning for selecting/deselecting candidates during the matching process?

    cheers,

    Lars

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