It seems certain percentage of the population hold some form of unconscious bias toward certain individuals or ethnic groups. Unconscious bias is not deliberate, but rather it is in our blind spots that most of the times we are not even aware of.
Unconscious bias is far more common than deliberate prejudice and often contrary with one’s moral principles. At times particular circumstances can trigger negative unconscious attitudes and beliefs. For example, when one is under tremendous pressure or doing many things at the same time, then unconscious bias seems to creep up.
What comes to your mind when you see a woman wearing a hijab or a man wearing a turban? Or what is the first thought that comes into your head when you see someone who is overweight? Or perhaps someone in a wheelchair?
Whatever the thought, there is a possibility that you might have unconscious bias. This can be detrimental in the workplace.
For example, you are looking to hire someone for a position that can be filled by a qualified man or woman. Then all of sudden an applicant comes in for an interview who has all the right credentials, but has a very thick foreign accent. Perhaps in your mind you were assuming that the person you were going to hire spoke English fluently. Although this person is qualified like the rest of the candidates, but now you are beginning to have second thoughts, well if so then you have unconscious bias.
When unconscious bias continues to go unchecked in the workplace, then it begins to undermine the entire organization. When qualified, candidates are not hired or employees are not promoted within the organization, then the company loses creativity, productivity and profits.
Here are just several steps one can take to overcome unconscious bias:
Awareness: It is important that you recognize the scale of consciousness of your decision making process. Are you open minded when it comes to decision making? Are your ways or opinions set?
Be honest with yourself: How did you make that decision? Were you influenced by certain things? And remember unconscious bias can result in decision making which can have negative or positive outcomes.
Become uncomfortable: If you have not interacted with certain types of individuals or certain ethnic groups, then you could be stereotyping. In doing so, this can lead into assumptions that may or not be true. Go out of your way to interact with these groups of people and by doing so you will have a different perspective.