Unconscious Bias

Solving the Unconscious Bias at Workplace

Each one of us is unique in our own way as everyone has different experiences in life. Different cultures, educational backgrounds, different political views, the list can be endless. While this diversity is indeed a unique selling point, it also brings with it a range of biases at the workplace that knowingly or unknowingly affects our decisions in everyday life.

An unconscious bias as defined by University of California’s Office of Diversity & Outreach are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

It has been observed that unconscious bias is far more prevalent in offices than conscious bias. Such biases usually occur unintentionally owing to work pressure, multitasking, or simply by mistake. Many times people don’t even realize this while they show a biased attitude at someone and this must be dealt with keeping in mind the mental health of everyone who is affected by it.

Types of Unconscious Bias at Workplace

1.       Affinity Bias: Also known as like-likes-like bias, it is our tendency to be attracted towards people similar to ourselves. This can result due to the fact that you both attended the same college or share the same political opinion. This can result in hiring or giving promotions that are unjustified or questioned by employees.

2.       Beauty Bias: Favourable treatment to attractive people unconsciously is termed as beauty bias. This happens in workplaces all over the world where an individual who is well-groomed or professionally dressed is favored over the people who are less conscious about their appearance. 

3.       Halo Effect: You see a person’s CV and you find that he has graduated from a very reputed university and you are undoubtedly impressed beyond measures. While talking or assigning work, you are bound to expect that this person can do this better than anybody else. They may be good or maybe not but your perception of them has already been defined by their degree. This type of bias is called the Halo effect.

4.       Horns Effect: This effect is exactly opposite to Halo effect. You see a negative aspect in a person or one poorly written project report presented by them and you judge all their future work keeping that one incident in your mind. Remember, you are not doing it on purpose and that is why it is a type of unconscious bias.

5.        Confirmation Bias: This happens when we make a judgment about a person and look for evidence to prove our bias. You saw someone is unable to answer a particular question about data structures. You then start throwing questions at him and he is fluent with all of them but you are deliberately waiting for that one wrong answer because you decided in the beginning that he is not good at data structures.  

Such biases ultimately lead to uncalled-for situations. We all must try our best to avoid such bias. Here are a few tips on how one should be able to help you.

1.       Include Diversity: Get involved with more and more people and have a diverse range of colleagues to work with. In this way, you learn about different cultures and any bias in your subconscious mind slowly fades away.

2.       Blind Recruitment: A lot of bias happens during the hiring process. Consider removing the names and addresses from the CVs and then do the filtering process. In this way you are will be more than confident of having an unbiased attitude.

3.       Use Conversational Advocates like Berry: Berry listens to every employee voice out there. In Berry, every employee has a transparent, real-time and consistent platform to make their voice not just heard but also acted upon. Every voice listened to is a step forward in creating an open work culture in an organization.

4.       D&I Training: Invest in Diversity and Inclusion workshops for your employees. In this way, everyone learns how to value and appreciate the differences and respect them.

5.       Be Responsible: Strive to be more self-aware of an unconscious bias in yourself, for example by taking the Harvard implicit association test (IAT). By changing your own behavior, you’ll hopefully inspire your colleagues to change too.