What is unconscious bias?
There are more than 180 forms of unconscious bias – also called unconscious biases. The concept covers situations where you make decisions based on past experiences and stereotypes that you are unconscious of being aware of.
That's why they exist and are created completely outside your control - it's the brain's autopilot that helps you categorise and navigate the world. Although biases make it easier for us to be in the world, they come with some unintended consequences. We subconsciously expect certain things from, or have prejudices about, certain people or groups because of characteristics (gender, age, ethnicity, etc.), which can be a barrier to equality, equal opportunities and equity.
We are all driven by bias - for example, when we recruit and promote employees. There are several examples of how our biases affect the assessment of women's and men's skills and performance in work contexts. The most well-known and well-documented is that men's work is systematically rated higher than women's.
3 tips for getting to terms with bias!
We can't necessarily get rid of bias, but by becoming aware that they exist, we can minimize their impact on our behavior and decisions. There are many ways to deal with unconscious biases. Here are three good bids:
1. Become aware of your biases
In fact, you can learn to create awareness about the stereotypes you create through your biases. One method of doing it is by learning to ask yourself some reflective questions in different contexts. For example, you might ask yourself, "If she was a man, would I have listened more to the idea?" or "If she was a man, would I have interrupted her less?"" That way, you can train your brain to reflect on your stereotypes when they occur.
2. Create consistent processes
Structure creates behavior in organizations. Therefore, it pays to create consistent structures in the way your processes are realized. Ultimately, consistent structures result in behavior patterns with fewer biases. Consider, for example, anonymizing names and images at the first stage of your recruitment process. Anonymization is a way to create a consistent structure that can slow down bias when and before they occur.
3. Read, learn and listen
Unconscious prejudice thrives on the lack of information. We often avoid what we don't understand, and the best way to solve this is to be informed by actively learning about what might seem alien to one. Therefore, focus on knowing and celebrating diversity in the workplace. In this way, we provide evidence of our own stereotypes, which in the long term can reduce the impact of unconscious bias.
If you want advice on how your company can actually address unconscious bias, please contact us today.