Catalyst Launches Campaign Aimed At Correcting Unconscious Bias

Tawana Burnett #BiasCorrect


Mar. 7 2019, Published 11:04 a.m. ET

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Don’t be so dramatic. Calm down. You’re so sensitive. Act like a lady.

Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words leave psychological never-ending internalized sexist wounds too. Women experience under the table toned down sexism at work every day. They turn our strengths into weaknesses. They say passionate women are “too aggressive.” They say determined women are “too bossy.” They say calculated women are “cold.”

By definition, unconscious bias is the concept that individuals have preferences for objects and people at a subconscious level that unintentionally influence their behavior and decision making. This means we are not always aware of gender bias that happens every day. We probably don’t even recognize it outside the workplace as well. We were raised in a society that told women we did not belong at work, but now that we are, they try to repress our success.

Women are often placed in over generalized pink vs. blue roles at work. This global schema paints working women as nurses or secretaries. The issue is: why is it so hard to picture a woman when we think of engineers? Why do we immediately picture a woman when we think of hospitality services? Even the hardest working employees at a workplace are labeled as “the man” but never “the woman.”

Not only do these unconscious biases impede a woman’s self-esteem, but they also add to the stigma of normalizing gender inequality at work, home, school, and life. The unconscious bias continues to be the largest barrier of a woman’s career and success. However, this International Working Women’s Day it is our turn to fix it and move towards total gender equality.

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Catalyst, the leading global non-profit focused on creating workplaces that work for women, is celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) by launching a bold campaign to tackle the unconscious gender bias. #BiasCorrect, created in partnership with NYC-based brand transformation company Burns Group, hopes to raise awareness of the power of words and encourage others to watch their own.

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#BiasCorrect Plug-In For Slack

Slack is one of the most used cloud-based forms of communicating online in the workplace. Catalyst’s plugin will tag the unconscious bias in real time conversations in work-based chats. The software, developed by mission-based tech company, Eskalera, will identify up to 25 adjectives and suggest unbiased replacements. For instance, if a woman is called “aggressive” the plugin suggests “assertive.” The plugin reads: 

“If she was a he would you have chosen that word?”

In an effort to re-systemize a biased system working against women advancement. Eskalera is using open source code making it easier for getting the plugin used across multiple platforms.  

Women Take Back Our Words

Launching on International Women’s Day (IWD), anyone will be able to upload their own image and word onto the campaign at Women everywhere- from millennial starters to bosses in the corporate world will get to own the words that have been thrown at us.

Some of the featured women participating in #BiasCorrect already are politician, Hillary Clinton, global marketing leader at Facebook, Tawana Burnett, and CEO of Catalyst, Lorraine Hariton.

Previously featured in our Power Agenda profile series, Tawana Burnett, shares her thoughts on the campaign. “Language matters and we need women and allies to continue to call out and reframe language that diminishes our impact,” Burnett explained when we asked why this topic was important for her to put her name behind.

“Language matters and we need women and allies to continue to call out and reframe language that diminishes our impact.”

Join these ladies by participating too. We can reclaim and redefine these words and change the schema for the new generation.

Although, we have progressed together by seeing more women join the STEM, business, and political fields we still have a long way to go. By bringing awareness to the words we use to talk to each other, we can intentionally reset an unintentional prejudice. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but it is our turn to reclaim words that empower us.

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