When people favour others who look like them and or share their values is known as unconscious bias. Everyone has unconscious bias, the brain receives information all the time from our own experiences and what we read, hear or see in the media and from others. The brain uses shortcuts to speed up decision making and unconscious bias is a by-product of that. There are times when quick decision making is useful such as in a dangerous situation. However, it is not a good way to make decisions when dealing with recruiting disciplining or promoting staff for example.
Conscious thoughts are controlled and well-reasoned. Unconscious thoughts can be based on stereotypes and prejudices that we may not even realise we have. Stereotypes surrounding tattoos may subconsciously suggest a person is unlikely to conform and follow rules. Stereotypes surrounding mothers may lead to unconscious bias against women who apply for a role which involves regular travel away from home. Stress or tiredness may increase the likelihood of decisions based on unconscious bias.
So, how can we overcome unconscious bias?
- We need to become aware of our thoughts and reasoning
- Don’t rush decisions – take your time and consider the issues properly
- Justify decisions and record the reasons for your decisions
- Try to work with a wider range of people and get to know them as individuals by working in different teams or with colleagues in different locations
- Focus on the positive behaviours of people and not negative stereotypes
- Implement policies and procedures which limit the influence of individual characteristics and preferences
People deserve to be treated equally and with respect and dignity. Before your unconscious bias gets the better of you, remember respect breeds respect and everyone deserves to be treated the same as you would expect to be treated.
Futureproof have a team of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion specialists who can help change the culture of your business. For more information, please get in touch 01623 409 824 or firstname.lastname@example.org