A practical tool to address unconscious bias in grantmaking and investment decisions
AN EVIDENCE-BASED GUIDE TO HIGHER QUALITY DECISIONS
When we participate in the funding process, our goal as reviewers is to contribute to high-quality decisions. However, unconscious bias skews all human decision-making. Research shows that we can reduce it by slowing ourselves down, in real time, to recognize and address unconscious factors.
The Mirror Tool is a reflection guide that enables us to make more conscious choices as we evaluate funding applications. Ultimately, this leads to more effective individual and collective participation, and higher quality decisions.
5 COMMON TYPES OF BIAS
Download the Mirror Tool to learn more about the places to look for the below five common types of bias, and to apply your understanding in real-time.
Be aware of and challenge assumptions that a beautifully written application or a beautifully produced video is connected to the impact and durability of the actual work, or the capacity of the team to execute the work.
Be aware of whether your assessment of an application is drawing on something that you like or dislike, or something that is familiar or unfamiliar that the application recalls for you.
Be aware of whether one great thing you identify in an application is having a halo effect that influences your view of the rest of the application. Similarly, be careful not to allow one shortcoming you identify in an application to have a horns effect, beyond its due.
Be aware of whether you are giving high or low scores to an application based on whether the work lines up to your own preconceived beliefs, rather than the evidence presented by the organization.
Be aware of whether you may be unconsciously favoring certain characteristics: bigger organizations and bigger budgets over smaller ones, more established organizations over newer ones, organizations with male over female or gender nonconforming leaders, etc.
“I believed myself to be relatively aware of my biases. I have assessed hundreds of grant applications and advised on hundreds of millions of dollars of grants. I am also a mixed-race, second-generation immigrant, and have devoted my career to fighting for social justice and against inequality and structural racism/bias, especially in my work in philanthropy. As part of the toolkit from a recent grant application review, I received Chicago Beyond’s Mirror Tool, which functioned as a supplement to the scoring matrix..." (Continued)
"...In having to note, write and reflect on my biases as I reviewed and scored the applications, I was 1) struck by how biased some of my reactions are, 2) aware that even after my training and awareness mollified some of those initial reactions, I remained stubbornly entrenched in certain biases, 3) my scores were different with the influence of the Mirror Tool. I will incorporate this into every framework/matrix I build moving forward, and will preach its value to all philanthropists and investment teams I advise.”
"Loved the implicit bias training. I found myself coming face to face with my own leanings toward what kind of work makes the most impact for our highest need communities; great experience to let go of those personal views that I’m not sure I’ve articulated to myself before."
ADDRESSING BIAS RESOURCES
WHY AM I ALWAYS BEING RESEARCHED?
A guidebook for community organizations, researchers, and funders to help us get from insufficient understanding to more authentic truth.