OMFS is a small surgical specialty and BAOMS is an even smaller group within that. We need to make the most use of all the talent, skills and enthusiasm available.
Unconscious Bias by its nature can reduce the pool of talent available or reduce the effectiveness of a group. This checklist is taken from peer review publications. It is not definitive but should be used when inviting people to contribute to BAOMS, appointing roles, and building groups.
Perception (stereotype-based) Bias
- Consider the whole bench of talent and narrow it down from there. Actively consider female and younger colleagues (including trainees when appropriate) for roles e.g. session chairs at ASM.
- Play devil's advocate when there are no significantly different perspectives raised.
- BAOMS includes surgeons from across UK and Ireland. Consider geographical areas not currently included in your group.
- Restate success criteria and key objectives (e.g., what's expected of a person for that particular role and level). Actively listen to the devil's advocate.
Leniency Error, Self-serving Bias, Similar-to-me Bias
- Actively consider colleagues whom you do not know personally. Ask widely.
- Gender focused language is a relatively easy bias to recognise but as most writing is unconscious, may be difficult to avoid in first drafts . Harsh corrections can be hurtful, but appropriate writing is inclusive.
- Actively consider people who are not like yourself and ask is your first choice just because they are like you.
- Look dispassionately at the qualities someone will bring, not just because you like them.
Confirmation Bias and Group Think
- This is the follow-on to perception bias, actively seeking to confirm your pre-existing ideas and assumptions. Group think is confirmation bias shared across a number of people.
How to use this checklist:
Share the checklist when there is a risk of bias: when you are considering assembling a group of presenters for a meeting, or recruiting to a seminar, or building a working group, any task where bias might happen.
Set clear criteria: write down the essential requirements and desirable qualities before you write down any names. Deciding on criteria rather personalities helps avoid bias. Make these transparent with teammates.
Widen the group involved in selection: ask for advice/suggestions from people who ‘do not look like you’ or ‘are not in your peer group’. Remember to involve trainees (of differing levels of experience).
Encourage accountability by all team members to explain decision-making: evaluations, peer reviews, or any other kind of decision-making about people.
Stop & Think: check yourself before making a people-decision when you're in stressful situations or under tight deadlines especially when you are the only one making the decision(s).
As you finalise your selection, consider there checklist again: encourage the selection group and those with whom you discuss it to call out bias if they think there are better alternatives which you have not considered.
Empower everyone to call out unconscious bias by calling it out yourself. Actively solicit input from people and say "thank you" when your bias is pointed out. If you get it wrong, apologize.