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DEIB Articles

Reflections in the Mirror

Confronting Our Inner Biases


Upon peering into the mirror of my own mind, I was confronted not just with my reflection, but with the shadowy figures of bias that stood silently behind it.


Answering the question, "Am I biased?" requires a mixture of introspection, humility, and courage. The truth is, everyone harbours biases, as they are an intrinsic part of the human cognitive apparatus. Our brains, striving for efficiency, use past experiences and cultural inputs to make quick judgments about the present.


Unconscious biases are automatic, quick judgments and assessments we make of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment, and personal experiences. These biases are not accessible through introspection because they operate at a subconscious level, affecting our behaviour without our conscious awareness.


Unconscious bias is like that awkward relative who shows up uninvited to every family gathering. You don't remember sending the invite, but there they are, hogging the conversation and occasionally putting their foot in their mouth. We all like to think of ourselves as open-minded, but the truth is, our conditioned responses are inevitable due our socialisation and personal life experiences.


Unconscious bias can manifest in numerous subtle ways. In social interactions, it might appear as a preference for people who share similar backgrounds or experiences, or discomfort around those who differ. In professional settings, it might influence hiring decisions, performance evaluations, and teamwork dynamics. For example, a manager might unknowingly favour candidates who went to the same university or come from a similar cultural background, believing these candidates 'fit better' with the company’s culture.


We need to acknowledge and explore these biases. We need to question their origins, and find out how they might skew my view of a person or situation? The journey toward answering "Am I biased?" isn't about self-flagellation or guilt. Instead, it's about growth and learning to widen our perspectives. It involves actively seeking out diverse viewpoints, challenging our assumptions, and adjusting how we interact with the world. It’s about making a conscious effort to listen more, speak less, and be open to changing our minds based on new evidence or persuasive arguments.


Confronting unconscious bias within oneself is not a sign of weakness but an act of courage and integrity. So, am I biased? Yes, I am. We all are. But the more pertinent question might be, "What am I doing about it?" Acknowledging our biases is the first step; actively working to mitigate their effects on our judgments and behaviours is where real change begins. This ongoing process isn't easy, but it's a vital part of personal development and creating a more equitable society.

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