The most noted bias discussed in the workplace is discrimination. However, there is another type known as unconscious bias.
This implicit bias involves the attitudes, stereotypes or prejudice that impact our actions, decisions and behaviors in our unconscious minds. The difference with this bias and overt discrimination is that we are unaware of it, and it happens outside of our control—accidental discrimination toward a person or group.
Have you ever made a quick judgement or assessment of a person/people and/or situation? Your brain automatically triggers a response influenced by your background, personal experiences and life or cultural experiences.
Impact in the Workplace
Unconscious bias appears in many forms. Simply put, it is favoring one group over another, and it occurs at all levels.
However, it can have the greatest impact with high-ranking individuals and those responsible for or who have great influence over the wellbeing of others. With that said, it can have devastating consequences to the individuals or groups who are the targets for such biases. The workplace difficulty can often be tied to this bias.
Examples of the impacts of unconscious biases can be seen in:
• Hiring and promotions
• Assessing and providing feedback
• Job satisfaction
• Marketing campaigns
• Treatment of customers/stakeholders
• Leadership selection
How to Address
First, recognize that we are all naturally biased. The key is to mitigate or remove our biases.
We can do that by:
• Awareness: Focus on fair treatment and respect. Your plan to ensure this happens and the expectations of every member of the organization.
• Recognize Your Own Biases: Assess your actions, decisions and behaviors to acknowledge your personal biases.
• Provide Training: Educate to change behaviors away from bias and discrimination.
• Change Thinking: Expose and address unconscious biases by being more conscious in your thinking and more deliberate in efforts to check your responses.
• Inclusion: Make a conscious effort to ensure all are included or considered.
• Improve Processes, Policies and Procedures: Ensure the structure of the organization does not permit biases.