CASE STUDY: Splunk, a Global Tech Company, Learns to ‘Break Bias’

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At NLI, we like to say “If you have a brain, you’re biased.” Ever since November 2017, the technology company Splunk has taken that insight to heart.

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Impact: 85% of participants use a strategy to mitigate bias at least once a week

Scale: 3,500+ managers in 30 locations

Speed: 10 months

At the NeuroLeadership Institute, we like to say “If you have a brain, you’re biased.” Ever since November 2017, the technology company Splunk has taken that insight to heart.

Splunk specializes in turning data into actions. In November of 2017, however, leadership began to realize the tendency to over-value the input from people in the San Francisco, California headquarters and not the other 30-some locations around the world.

This demonstrated a clear distance bias, or the brain’s tendency to put greater weight on what’s close by than what’s farther away. Distance bias can be as subtle as innocently forgetting to ask the folks dialing in remotely to a meeting for their thoughts. Or it can be as pernicious as actively ignoring those who aren’t present but might disagree.

Splunk + NLI

Based on its goals, Splunk embarked on a learning journey with the NLI solution, DECIDE: The Neuroscience of Breaking Bias. The solution helps teams label and mitigate their biases to make smarter decisions. Over 10 months, more than 3,500 managers went through the four-week program.

The first three weeks involved social, distributed learning rooted in the science of memory. The goal was to maximize “stickiness” in the brain. The fourth week, participants attended an interactive webinar to cement their learning.

Results have shown a resounding success at Splunk. Now, in meetings, teammates defer to their remote colleagues before taking input from the room. Surveys indicate that 97% of participants accept that bias influences their decisions. And 80% feel confident that they can mitigate bias going forward.

As Splunk CHRO Tracy Edkins says, “This global training is one of the steps we’ve taken to combat unconscious bias in our work environment, grow our inclusive culture, and drive meaningful change at Splunk and across the technology industry.”

Click here to view the full Splunk/DECIDE case study.

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