Unconscious Bias & the Workplace

Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

The most noted bias discussed in the workplace is discrimination. There is another type of bias worth noting known as unconscious bias. This implicit bias involves the attitudes, stereotypes, or prejudice that impact our actions, decisions, and behaviors in our unconscious. The difference with this bias and discrimination is that we are unaware and happens outside of our control…accidental discrimination toward a person or group of people. Have you ever made a quick judgement or assessment of a person/people and situation? Your brain automatically triggers a response influence by our background, personal experiences, and life/cultural experiences.

Impact in the Workplace

Unconscious bias appears in many forms in the workplace. Simply put…it is favoring one group over another. It occurs at all levels. However, it can have the greatest impact with high ranking individuals and those responsible or have great influence over the wellbeing of others. With that being said, it can have devastating consequences to the individual or group such bias are made toward. The workplace difficulty can often be tied to this bias.

Examples of the impacts can be seen in:

  • Hiring and Promotions
  • Assessing and Providing Feedback
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Marketing Campaigns
  • Treatment of Customers/Stakeholders
  • Mentoring
  • Leadership selection

How to Address

First recognize we are all naturally bias. 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. Assess your actions, decision, and behaviors to acknowledge your personal biases.
  • Provide training to change behaviors away from bias and discrimination.
  • Change Thinking. Expose and address unconscious bias by being more conscious in your thinking and more deliberate efforts to check your responses.
  • Inclusion. Make a conscious to ensure all are included or considered.
  • Improve processes, policies & procedures. Ensure the structure of the organization does not permit biases.

“You will not change what you are not aware of nor respond to what you will not acknowledge.”  — Unknown

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