People’s prejudices and stereotypical views about specific groups of people are often held unconsciously. There is a possibility that people from different races, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, physical abilities, or any other group may be prejudiced against. As a result of unconscious bias, inclusion and diversity can be severely compromised in the workplace.
Unconscious Bias in the Workplace
The more you ignore the consequences of unconscious bias, the more you and your business will suffer. This type of prejudice, also known as unconscious bias, happens when people make decisions based on preconceptions or their own experiences rather than taking into account the individual’s actual characteristics.
You may be unknowingly discriminating against those who are different from you if, for instance, you hire someone because you have an implicitly favourable association with them, such as when you are similar in age. There is a serious potential for legal trouble if you do that.
What to do about it is the question. How can you deal with a potential problem if you are unaware of its existence?
Organizations and the personnel who run them are vulnerable to biases of all kinds, including those based on race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and other protected characteristics, if they are not kept in check. The first steps towards building a more diverse and welcoming workplace are awareness of, and action to combat, unconscious bias.
Identifying Unconcious Biases
A growing number of companies and businesspeople recognise that all people exhibit some degree of unconscious bias. Unconscious biases are a part of being human, but it doesn’t make us bad. There can be serious consequences in the workplace when people’s unconscious biases affect who is employed and recruited, who gets offered new possibilities, and whose voice is heard in meetings and elsewhere.
Companies can adjust their operations to prevent potential biases from causing harm to their employees, applicants, and customers. Managers play a crucial role in revealing these biases when they publicly state their commitment to objectivity. In order to lay the groundwork for a successful career, it is important to recognise and work to overcome these prejudices. Examining and changing your company’s decision-making processes could be the first step in the identification indicated. To make the changes that are needed, you need to honestly assess the situation.
Tackle Unconscious Bias
- Understand that everyone has hidden prejudices: We can’t overcome bias until we accept that it’s inherent to human nature. You can learn more about your own prejudices by taking an Implicit Association Test (IAT).
- Give your options some thought: Making snap judgments or acting rashly increases the likelihood of unintentional bias, therefore it’s important to slow down and think things through.
- Keep an eye on your actions: Evaluate whether your snap judgments and emotional responses to people are truly impartial or influenced by unconscious prejudice.
- Observe illegally protected traits for discrimination: Discrimination based on age, handicap, sex, pregnancy, race, religion, maternity, or maternity leave, for example, is illegal.
- Interact with more people: Refrain from spending each day at work in the same seat as the same coworker. Don’t be afraid to mix with people from all walks of life, all educational levels, all cultures, etc. Doing so will help you become more culturally savvy and open-minded.
- Establish behavioural expectations: Ensure that everyone on the team has a chance to speak without interruption and that their ideas are taken into consideration.
- Take nothing for granted: Trust neither your intuition nor your first impressions. In other words, “my boss didn’t offer me the project since I had a new kid and there’s some travel,” etc. Never think you have all the answers; doing so can lead to hasty, incorrect judgments.
- Implement shift swapping to combat bias: Establish rotating schedules for ‘housekeeping’ duties like taking meeting minutes, arranging refreshments, etc. to promote equality and lessen the possibility of gender bias.
- Don’t keep your prejudices to yourself: If a male coworker repeatedly interrupts a female coworker, for instance, it might be OK to gently remind him that you were interested in hearing what she had to say. Have a quiet discussion with your manager if he or she consistently favors male or white employees when assigning challenging tasks.
In a nutshell
Unconscious biases impact everyone, but many colleagues are more vulnerable to mistreatment when those biases manifest as discriminatory behavior. As soon as you recognize this truth, and take steps to overcome the biases that inhibit it, the stronger the companies will become, and the better positioned they will be to put people first. Research has shown that unconscious bias can negatively impact recruitment, training, and other work-related decisions.