It’s naïve to think that it’s easy to overcome bias. Karen Craggs-Milne, Head of Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at ThoughtExchange, explains, “Human beings are biased by nature. It is part of how we function, and it is embedded in our thoughts, our interactions and even the tools and processes that we design.”
She says sometimes bias is conscious, and, often, it is unconscious. Once a business acknowledges that bias is real, it can take steps to address it, first asking how bias shows up in different processes and then finding tools that can effectively solve those problems.
Craggs-Milne says ThoughtExchange, an enterprise discussion management platform, is a technology designed to eliminate bias. “It combines a patented anti-bias software with rich analytics and visualizations to help leaders pinpoint the most business-critical issues,” she says. For example, the software gives participants the ability to provide candid feedback while remaining fully anonymous.
“Another element in how to overcome bias is through the software’s ability to distinguish between frequency and importance,” she says. “One idea such as ‘diversity training’ may be mentioned numerous times in an exchange by many people. However, a different idea such as ‘promoting more diverse staff to leadership roles’ may only be mentioned once and but turn out to be the highest-rated thought in the same group. The platform allows you to see and distinguish the most frequent from the most important thoughts, thus removing bias that most survey-type tools overlook.”
ThoughtExchange also helps overcome bias by ensuring that in large-scale conversations – which include hundreds of thousands of ideas – all thoughts have an equal chance of being reviewed and counted. “This removes bias that could arise from only reading some of the thoughts,” she says.
The World Needs More Software to Overcome Bias
Craggs-Milne comments, “We need more solutions like ThoughtExchange that leverage technology in new and innovative ways to remove barriers, to deepen our authentic contributions and to drive better business and social outcomes.”
She points out, however, that technology is not bias-free by default. “The challenge for software developers is to design with this in mind and to ensure that their products do not unintentionally promote existing biases that can cause real harm to others. For example, to ensure that artificial intelligence (AI) doesn’t produce outputs that exhibit racial bias in healthcare or the court system.
“While technology has the potential to solve many of our problems, we must ensure that it doesn’t make existing problems worse or create new ones as we strive for the next ground-breaking innovation,” Craggs-Milne says.
Integrate Anti-Bias Functionality
While your software may not offer businesses the ability to eliminate biases, you may be able to integrate anti-bias features by partnering with other developers.
“The integration of specialized technology solutions as mainstream tools for business is growing exponentially. If you can pinpoint a key challenge that businesses face and offer a technology solution that solves that problem better than anyone else can, you are in business!” Craggs-Milne comments.
As digital transformation advances in more businesses and organizations, more employees, partners, customers, and users will engage via technology – and all should have the same opportunities and experiences. You have the opportunity to develop software that can overcome bias and achieve those goals.