What’s YOUR Unconscious bias?
Unconscious bias can influence decisions in all area’s of life work, recruitment, promotion, performance management and personal relationships.
So what is unconscious bias?
Bias is a prejudice in favour of or against one thing, a person, or group compared with another usually in a way that’s considered to be unfair. Biases may be held by an individual, group, or institution and can have negative or positive consequences.
Unconscious bias (also known as implicit bias) occurs when people favour others who look like them and/or share their values. For example a person may be drawn to someone with a similar educational background, from the same area, or who is the same colour or ethnicity as him or her.
Another form of unconscious bias is known as the halo effect. This is where a positive trait is transferred onto a person without anything really being known about that person. For example those who dress conservatively are often seen as more capable in an office environment, based purely on their attire.
Behaviour, which reinforces the bias, is noticed whilst behaviour which does not is ignored. This is how decisions based on unconscious bias are justified.
Everyone has unconscious biases: It’s natural to do it, it’s not intentional, it does and will continue to affect decision making, because brain receives information all the time from our own experiences and what we read, hear or see and all other senses internally and external. The brain uses shortcuts to speed up decision-making by deleting and distorting the millions of bits of information being processed and unconscious bias is a by-product. There will be times when reactive situations occur and quick decision-making is key, however, this type of processing is not appropriate in all situations.
Yes, in reality our biases affect our decision-making processes and us in a number of different ways:
• Behaviours – how receptive/friendly we are towards certain people.
• Attention – which aspects of a person we pay most attention to.
• Listening Skills – how much we actively listen to what certain people say.
• Micro-affirmations – how we comfort certain people in certain situations.
• Attitude – how we react towards certain people.
• Perception – how we see people and perceive reality.
Our brains are hardwired to make unconscious decisions, because the number of choices we face every day would be overwhelming if we had to consciously evaluate every single one. That means there is a direct link between our unconscious thinking and our actions and behavior. And when it comes to making choices at work, it’s important to know they are not based on bias. Conscious thoughts are controlled and well reasoned. Unconscious thoughts can be based on stereotypes and prejudices that we may not even realise we have.
How to overcome unconscious bias:
- The first step is simple – make the unconscious, conscious. By acknowledging the different types of unconscious bias we can start to address them.
- Be aware of unconscious bias.
- Don’t rush decisions rather take your time and consider issues properly.
- Justify decisions by evidence and record the reasons for your decisions, for example during a recruitment exercise.
- Try to work with a wider range of people and get to know them as individuals. This could include working with different teams or colleagues based in a different location.
- Focus on the positive behaviour of people and not negative stereotypes.
- Employers should implement policies and procedures, which limit the influence of individual characteristics and preferences.
Could you be biased in your judgments, without knowing it?
The reality is that our attitudes and behaviour toward other people can be influenced as much by our instinctive feelings as by our rational thought processes. And that hidden drive affects everything, from what you’ll eat for dinner to who you will pick to for a specific task.
Why Do We Have Unconscious Biases?
Research suggests that we instinctively categorise people and things using easily observed criteria such as age, weight, skin color, and gender. But we also classify people according to educational level, disability, sexuality, accent, social status, and job title, automatically assigning presumed traits to anyone we subconsciously put in those groups or boxes.
- The “advantage” of this system is that it saves us time and effort processing information about people, allowing us to spend more of our mental resources on other tasks.
- The clear disadvantage is that it can lead us to make assumptions about them and take action based on those biases.
- This results in a tendency to rely on stereotypes, even if we don’t consciously believe in them.
- No matter how unbiased we think we are, we may have subconscious negative opinions about people who are outside our own group.
- But the more exposed we are to other groups of people, the less likely we are to feel prejudice against them.
The Impact of Discrimination:
While we may not be aware of our prejudices, and prefer not to admit them if we are, they can have damaging consequences on both the way we manage and the people we manage.
- For example, you may be influenced by unconscious bias when you conduct performance management reviews. If your people suspect that is the case, or are just suffering the consequences of your unwitting discrimination, it can lead to mistrust, lowered morale and an increased likelihood of good people leaving your organisation.
- Just imagine how you’d feel if someone was discriminating against you, based on some superficial aspect of who you are!
- If a team member does feel you have discriminated against him or her, even unwittingly, it could impact you in a number of ways.
- He could begin a grievance procedure against you or even leave your organisation, citing discrimination as a reason. Make sure that you understand the discrimination laws that apply in the country where you work, and that you understand your rights and responsibilities, and those of your people.
The Benefits of Diversity:
Diversity refers to the variety of differences between people, which can include race, gender, age, sexuality, education, and social class. Worldwide urbanisation, communication and mobility have increased workplace diversity and will likely continue to do so. Organisations that embrace a diverse workforce and create systems that support it can reap numerous benefits:
How to Avoid Unconscious Bias:
You can address these discrimination issues by increasing your awareness of your unconscious biases, and by developing plans that make the most of the talents and abilities of your team members.
Recognise Your Own Biases:
You need to be honest with yourself about the stereotypes that affect you. For example, you may consciously think that men and women are equally effective leaders but, as a woman, you believe that men perhaps don’t have the same level of empathy and people skills as women. That subconscious bias could influence your actions so that male candidates could be excluded from certain roles or positions.
Recruitment is an area where unconscious bias may come into play. As we have seen, people may unwittingly tend to favor applicants from their own familiar backgrounds. But you can take practical steps to reduce this bias. For example, ensure the wording of your job advert does not favor one group of people or another (for instance, use words that appeal equally to men and women). And when you read resumes, read several side by side rather than just one a time. That way you focus more on the performance and skills mentioned than on issues such as gender.
Hidden Bias Test:
measure unconscious, or automatic, biases. Your willingness to examine your own possible biases is an important step in understanding the roots of stereotypes and prejudice in our society.
Defining Implicit Bias:
Also known as implicit social cognition, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.
Types of Unconscious Bias:
The following types of bias are all very common
That’s where our Unconscious Bias Course comes in, not only it help you understand what unconscious bias is, its impact on the recruitment process and how to build strategies to counteract it, it also helps you
- Know how to assess your company for culture and diversity.
- Bring inclusion into your organisation, building a platform to support your team.
- Learn specific sourcing skills, searching for gender, age, and ethnic diversity.