The Three Pillars To Break The Bias – IWD2022 [Episode 20]

This episode is for you, if you want to make a difference, creating a genuinely level playing field, love the idea of 'break the bias', but aren't sure how to do it without getting shouty and angry and telling everybody what they're doing wrong?

If you've ever got stuck in the "who am I to do this?" 3am self-talk, then this episode is for you!

And if you want to know the secret for creating breakthroughs instead of burnout on our passionate world-changer journey, I'm going to teach you my 7 Cs process to be able to do exactly that.

Here's What We'll Cover On How To Break The Bias:

  • The three pillars for breaking the bias
  • How to spot the hidden warning signs
  • Which one I start with - and why
  • The benefit of starting back-to-front
  • The biggest block to breaking the bias?
  • The simplest solution?

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Prefer to read? Here's the #BreakTheBias transcript:

This episode's going out in International Women's Day week in 2022, where the core theme is breaking the bias. This episode is for you if you want to make a difference, creating a genuinely level playing field, love the idea of break the bias, but maybe aren't sure how to do that without getting shouty and angry and telling everyone what they're doing wrong. If you've ever got stuck in the, "Who am I to do this?" 3:00 AM self talk, this episode is for you. If you want to know the secret to creating breakthroughs, instead of burnout on our passionate world changer journey, I'm going to teach you my seven C's process to be able to do exactly that. Welcome to episode 20 of the Ditching Imposter Syndrome podcast with me, your host, Clare Josa, also of Ditching Imposter Syndrome.

Today I want to talk about break the bias for IWD2022. We're going to cover the three pillars for breaking the bias, how to spot the hidden warning signs if any of those are an issue in your organisation, which one I start with and why, the benefit of doing this back to front, the biggest block to breaking the bias and the seven C's solution. Sometimes when I do keynotes for organisations on ditching imposter syndrome, one of the things that can come up during the Q and A is a lot of anger. Hopefully not because they did a rubbish keynote, but people feeling totally frustrated. Why are they, meaning the leadership team, asking us to change when they are the problem? When I see this come up and luckily it's not too often, but when it does, it tends to be pretty vocal, then I know I'm working with a group of women who aren't feeling empowered to make a difference and to create change. If the change that we need is down to somebody else and we feel like we are battling the system that is never a healthy place to create change.

I talk when that comes up, sometimes I build it into my talks if I've been warned that it might, about the three pillars for breaking the bias for creating lasting. They are; the culture, the environment, and our habits. How can you spot whether these might be running? Cultural risk factors in bias, my research has shown, include very competitive environments, a culture where people are regularly compared, particularly if you are ranked, which is even worse, an alpha male style of leadership in the most senior team, long working hours, presenteeism, where you are judged on your hours, not your output, low tolerance of mistakes, and what I call toxic resilience that bounce back gritted teeth pretending, pushing on through.

In environment risk factors include, for example; hybrid working if that's not working for you with your home commitments workplace hot-desking. If we go back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, that triangle model he's got, where we look at those very base needs of security and safety. For some people working at a different desk every day means that they don't have that. They're not part of their team. They're sitting with strangers. Another environment risk factor that can create bias might be an open plan office, which people with an introvert preference who need peace and quiet, and recharge their batteries through alone time find really hard. If someone's working at home, their physical environment can create bias. Do they have a lovely home office? Are they squatting on the edge of their bed, praying they've remembered to use the background in the Teams meetings so nobody can see their dressing gown? Do they have carer or childcare responsibilities? Do they have so many meetings that their working day starts at 5:00 PM?

Then the habits risk factors. My research shows these are the behavioural habits that can accidentally create bias from within. We might have a knowledge or skills gap compared to the role that we're working in. We might be running an introvert versus extrovert preference that isn't supporting thriving in our organisation. We might struggle with time management, shyness, toxic resilience, anxiety, burnout or good old imposter syndrome.

Those are some of the warning signs to look out for, with culture, with environment and with habits. Now, when work with organisations to help them move towards true equity the one I normally start with is actually our habits, because changing culture takes a lot of energy. Changing the environment, there might be some wonderful, quick fixes we put in, but they might be tied in with the culture. But our habits are so something that is always within our control and the benefit of starting back to front, if we are on a mission ourselves to break the bias and to make change in our organisation or our industry or wherever it is that we want to be able to break the bias, if we get out of our own way, then we can change the world from a place of grounded confidence, rather than fear, anger and resentment.

Back in 2016, I'd co-led an international campaign group of 10,000 micro-businesses to change EU VAT law, so tax law. A change in the law had been brought in, accidentally put a few hundred thousand of us out of business overnight. It had been voted through by the UK government as well. This was not a beating up the EU thing, but we needed to get changes made to that law. Myself and Juliet McKenna and a small group of really inspirational women managed to lead that group of businesses to create change that 10 Downing street and the tax authorities in the UK had told us was completely impossible.

The way we did that was by getting ourselves out of the way. We had every right to be angry, if not livid at what had happened. The consultation process had been woeful. It showed that the governments across the whole of the EU, including the UK, simply didn't understand the way digital businesses were run at the micro business level. To give you a context, micro business means below 2 million euros, a year turnover. It really affects a huge number of businesses. We went to every meeting and instead of looking at who we could blame and being angry, we went in there collaboratively. We had to do the work to allow ourselves to be in that place of peace with, this has happened, we're here to help fix it, instead of who are we going to make pay? We were told by the UK tax authorities, it's the first time they'd ever had a lobbying group come in with that attitude. They normally come in angry, putting everybody on the back foot, making people defensive and making it really hard for change to happen without people having to admit that maybe they'd been doing something wrong.

One of the biggest things when we want to create change is we can't hit people's ego buttons. Yeah. If somebody has to admit they were wrong in order for a change to go through, believe me, the vast majority of people will make sure that change doesn't happen. We got the law changed, because we got ourselves out of our own way. We looked at how our habits might sabotage the campaign and we achieved what we'd been told was unachievable. This law who created a bias against hundreds of thousands of businesses. People who'd worked hard for years to build up a business that was making a difference that was running internationally because people simply hadn't understood what we needed. Most of the time bias is really not malicious. It's people doing their best, who simply don't understand what we need.

The biggest block to breaking that bias and the biggest block to breaking any bias is the self-talk we've got of, "Who am I to do that?" Who am I to do that? Who am I to step up and speak out? Who am I to go and contact that person in the leadership team and tell them what I can see is wrong. Who am I to initiate this research study, to bring in this expert who can help us? Good old imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is one of the biggest sources of internal bias. I talk about imposter syndrome as being a secret, self-imposed glass ceiling. My research studies in 2019 and 2022 have shown, for example, it's one of three hidden triggers and causes in the gender pay gap.

The first two are the alpha male culture at senior levels in far too many organisations and the extended working hours and travel commitments that come with leadership roles that leave women forced to choose between their career and their family life. But there are ways it causes us to get in our own way, too, creating bias. We found in the research, 30% of female respondents in the past year had not applied or volunteered for opportunities to shine. 45% had not applied for promotion, which they knew they were qualified for. 51% were routinely putting their success down to fluke or luck or timing or a group effort and volunteering that dreaded 'but' with a self-criticism whenever they were praised. 61% said they were less likely to speak up with their great ideas or opinions and would back down more quickly if challenged. At the simplest levels, 37% of female respondent have said, they'd not asked for a pay raise they knew they deserved in the past year.

Now, if you want to know whether or not imposter syndrome might be getting in your way, and whether you can do something about it to allow you to be able to really step up and break the bias and make the difference your heart's calling you to make, I've got a free, research-backed quiz you can do. It's at If you just answer those questions, it will tell you which of the three core aspects of imposter syndrome needs to be your priority to deal with. It gives you a free, personalised action plan based on your responses to those questions. Make sure you do that. Maybe press pause now and go and do it. It takes about five minutes or make a note and do it straight after this episode.

You can imagine that once we've cleared out imposter syndrome, or at least started making progress towards it, we've closed what I call the imposter syndrome gap. That gap between who we see ourselves as being and who we think we need to be to make that difference. When we clear out what was causing that gap, we no longer need the bridge of coping strategies that we build over the top. We allow ourselves to become the version of us that makes that difference, that is able to deal with the bias in the culture and the environment pillars in a way that is constructive and collaborative rather than based on fear, anger and resentment. Then change is so much easier.

When you do the inside work, then changing the outside world becomes something that is fast, fun, and forever. I often explain that changing the world isn't so much about what you do, it's about who you allow yourself to become. If you want to really break the bias, we need to start with where our true power lies, clearing out the stuff that would hold us back so our message and dreams and insights can have the impact they deserve. Doing that inside work. I talk about exactly how to do that in my book dare to dream be it was actually written shortly after we changed the EU law, because the way we'd done it was so unusual and so effective I wanted to look at how we could use that to create a process so that other people had tools to go out there and create radical change in ways that made friends, instead of feeling like we were heading into conflict. That model is my seven C's.

I want to briefly guide you through it here because some of this might be useful for you. The seven C's, the first one is clarity. You really need to know what you want. Not what you don't want, because that just reinforces those neural pathways. If you've not heard my episode 18, why we need to kick the worry habit, go and listen to that one, to understand why. But clarity about what we do want and make it something that's actually potentially within our control. Now, we might need still to influence people and create cultural change and environmental change, but clarity about what we do want, rather than talking what we don't want, makes it easier for people to understand and get on board.

The second C is the confidence. That grounded confidence feeling comfortable in our own skin so we can make those changes from that place of collaboration rather than blame. That's what we've just been talking about there, with the imposter syndrome. It's what I teach in my Inner Critic Bootcamp. It's what I teach if you want to be going and working at a higher level on my Stepping Up To Lead program. The third C is credibility. For people to listen to us we need to be credible. We do not need to be the world's biggest expert in something, but we need to have credibility to get them to hear our message. You don't have to be the credible person. You can bring people into your team as you're working to break the bias so that your team has credibility as a whole. It's not all down to you.

The next C, number four, is connection. So much of making a different, breaking the bias, changing the world is about our network. Who do we know who knows somebody? Who do we know who, once we've got that credibility, the clarity and the confidence, might really be able to hear our message and do something about it? Now this was really pivotal for us on the EU VAT action campaign, but those connections, didn't all come from us. Yeah. That rule of six degrees of separation, it's amazing how, when you put it out to your network, your friends, your tribe, your colleagues, somebody will know somebody who knows somebody that might be able to whisper in somebody's ear, that fast tracks the progress you want to make. It's about doing this together. You don't have to change the world on your own. In fact, that's the hardest way to do it.

The fifth C is creativity. This is really about inspired action versus busyness. So often when we want to break the bias or make a change, we start with the actions rather than laying the foundations of the clarity, the confidence, the credibility, and the connection. When you build those foundations first, and it doesn't need to take forever, the creativity, the inspired actions we take have really potent outcomes.

C number six is commitment. Keeping going even when you're not in the mood. That consistent daily action, micro steps, celebrating your micro wins. That's something I talk about on my other podcast, Soul Led Leaders. It's episode six. I think it's a fantastic way of really keeping going when you're not in the mood. Then the seventh C is celebration. Celebrating each and every success. As you're working to break the bias, looking at those three pillars, the culture, the environment, and the habits is making sure that every tiny breakthrough, every tiny win, you're sitting there doing your happy dance rather than waiting for the real biggies. That's my seven C process for changing the world, making a difference, breaking the bias.

You can find step by step how-to for that in Dare to Dream Bigger. And I've also got a masterclass I'm running on exactly this to celebrate International Women's Day 2022, which you can go and grab your ticket for right now It's a 60 minute masterclass with a half hour Q and A. By the end of it, I'm hoping you're going to feel inspired, empowered, and ready to get out there and break the bis. I really hope you found that useful today. A tour of how to break the bias, how to make sure we don't get in our own way and how to create that wave of change in a way that's constructive and positive rather than coming from fear, worry, blame, and anxiety.

If you found this useful, please make sure you subscribe to the Ditching Imposter Syndrome podcast, wherever it is you love to get your podcasts. Maybe leave it a review. Let other people know how it's helped you so they can find it too. It makes a huge difference. I'd love to hear from you. What are you going to do this year IWD2022 to break the bias? How are you going to make a difference? Which of those seven C's; clarity, confidence, credibility, connection, creativity, commitment, and celebration resonates with you and might be your new best friend forever on your break the bias journey?

I hope you have an amazing week. I'll be back next week talking about why it's impossible to ditch imposter syndrome if you've got an out of control inner critic.

About the author

Clare Josa

Clare is considered a global authority in the fields of Imposter Syndrome, burnout and toxic resilience, and has been an international keynote speaker for over 20 years.

The author of 8 books, a reformed engineer and the former Head of Market Research for one of the world's most disruptive brands, she blends research-backed practical inspiration with demystified ancient wisdom, to help you create breakthroughs in ways that are fast, fun and forever.

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