Stopping Unconscious Bias is a Team Effort

Two JPMorgan Chase technology leaders discuss bias and the role leadership must play to address it in the workplace.

In this series we dig into gender diversity in technology, advice from women who have succeeded in the industry, and why equality is essential in the workplace.

Fighting unconscious bias in technology groups can’t be left to the women in the room. In the third installation of our series on women in technology, we sat down with two JPMorgan Chase technology executives to get their views on why it’s so important for leadership to create an environment where everyone is heard and appreciated for the specific skills they bring to the table.

Bill Wallace, Head of Digital, Consumer and Community Banking, Wilmington, Delaware

“While there are introverted men and women everywhere, gender and cultural differences can add an extra layer of complexity and opportunity for leaders. I always encourage team leaders to create a work environment where each individual feels comfortable contributing. It often requires leaders to embrace diverse styles and to encourage input from everyone.

It should be the leader who’s helping all people—regardless of gender or culture—find their footing in a team and feel comfortable voicing their opinions in that team. If someone is naturally quiet, for instance, it’s up to me to draw them out and make the environment a non-judgmental one, which welcomes all kinds of questions and opinions. And if someone is still uncomfortable speaking in a crowd, then it’s up to me to get their input outside of a meeting environment. Everyone’s different.”

Tiffany Polk, Managing Director, Global Head of Storage Infrastructure, Newark, Delaware

"I'm a woman and black, so I've witnessed unconscious biases against both my race and gender. I've been lucky at JPMorgan Chase, but one time earlier in my career when I was heading up a team of technologists, I walked into the office and a person I didn't know was scrambling to get ready for a meeting. He looked at me said: 'can you help me out and run these copies?' I ran the copies, came to the meeting, walked up to the person and said: 'here's the presentation.' Then I ran the meeting like nothing happened. The person was mortified and apologized to me afterwards.

As a female leader you have to be extremely aware of what's going on in the room. You need to work on building the emotional intelligence to see the dynamics play out in real-time, and to be both the observer of yourself as well as others. You can't just throw emotional heat into situations—you have to think about how you can get the best results."


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