Unconscious / Implicit Bias in the workplace

We all have unconscious biases that we bring with us into our places of work. Triggered by our brains making quick judgments of people and situations, these subconscious attitudes can span race, gender, age, wealth, appearance, and much more. They are influenced by our background and personal experiences and can impact everything from the clothes you wear to the employee you promote. In an everyday work setting, it can determine who is most involved in a meeting, who speaks the loudest, who is heard the most, and who sits in the back.

 

Psychologists explain that our unconscious biases are simply our ‘people preferences’ and we naturally favour those who look like us, sound like us and are interested in the same things. We use these preferences to make snap judgments - judgements that bypass our normal, rational and logical thinking.

Psychologists have highlighted three main types of bias that are apparent in the workforce:

  • Affinity Bias (where we ignore negative traits of people we like and focus on the faults of those we don’t),

  • Social comparison Bias (where we favour those we consider to be in ‘our group’), and

  • Confirmatory Bias (where we seek for facts that will confirm our pre-existing perceptions).

Unconscious bias touches many aspects of diversity in the workforce. Left unchecked, it can damage employer reputations, reduce talent acquisition effectiveness, and poison company culture. While everyone has this tendency, it’s how we respond to it that matters. With knowledge and awareness of our biases, we can start to recognize and interrupt those behaviours.We have the power to step back from a situation and reflect. Increased aware of our biases is central to intercultural competence.

TDCI's Unconscious bias programs is designed to create deep-awareness of our own unconscious bias, its socially constructed origins, the effect it has within the workplace, and ways of combating it. Combating unconscious bias requires commitment and action, but the results can yield a significant talent advantage for any company that commits to the vision.

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