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Definition of Unconscious Bias:

When our decisions and choices are influenced by our experience, background, cultural upbringing, mostly unknowingly, it is called unconscious bias. 

As the name suggests, it is not a conscious choice, but a preference developed because of the conditioning we have experienced. This is usually seen at the workplace when offering promotions, recruitment, performance evaluations and so on. As a result, it becomes difficult to foster diversity and inclusion at the workplace. It is the responsibility of every organization to avoid unconscious bias, not just for upliftment of different communities, but for better profits. In fact, it is seen that an ethnically diverse board of directors are likely to make above average profits by 43%. 

What are the different types of Unconscious Bias?

Here are some types of Unconscious Bias usually see at the workplace:

  • Similarity bias: This is seen when we prefer people who are similar to us in some manner. It is because we can relate to them easily. We look for attributes such as class, ethnicities, hobbies, interests etc.
  • Attribution bias: When we attribute other’s success as luck and failures as lack of ability, but see their own success as a result of their hard work, and failure to things outside their influence. This can be seen particularly during appraisals and performance evaluation.
  • Beauty bias: When attractive people are favoured for a role, despite knowing that their looks do not contribute to their efficiency and ability to carry out a job.
  • Confirmation bias: This occurs when we refuse to accept or consider people whose opinions and viewpoints contradict our own. 
  • Conformity bias: When the decision conforms to the popular opinion and individuals do not have the space to openly speak out their thoughts and ideas. This hinders creativity and problem solving ability. 
  • Gender bias: One of the most common forms of bias, companies these days take action against such discrimination. Common examples include asking female employees to take down notes during the meeting, or preferring men for analytical tasks. Sometimes, this unconscious bias can be seen in job descriptions and adverts as well. 
  • Halo and horns bias: Halo effect bias occurs when the positives in a person makes us overlook their negatives. These negatives may have a direct impact on the role or the task they are handling. Horn effect bias is the opposite, wherein our negative impression or the person’s failings are highlighted more than their positives and strengths.

How to mitigate Unconscious Bias at the workplace?

  • Become conscious about these unconscious biases. Let everyone know how it occurs and help them what their unconscious bias is, so that they can take steps to eliminate it.
  • Retrospect on how these biases are affecting your company. Are there enough female board members? how are the salary raises decided? How unbiased are the recruitment decisions? What are the commonly asked interview questions? These are some questions that you can start with. 
  • Set Diversity and Inclusion goals for your company. You need talented employees. Period. And you breed creativity and innovation when there’s diverse opinion and a healthy debate. Make sure to act on your diversity goals. 
  • Revisit your hiring process. How is your hiring process designed? Is your job description free of bias? Does it prevent people from a certain race, gender, or class from applying? How do you decide that interviewers are on the same page with What good looks like. 
  • Experiment with blind recruitment. Tools like textio, and gapjumpers can help you ensure that you hire employees for their talents alone. 
  • Ensure that there is diversity among decision makers too. This can help greatly with avoiding unconscious bias, as it helps provide a different perspective to people who hire. 
  • Encourage people to open up about biases and nepotism they see at the workplace. Ensure that your culture encourages people to speak up about the issues and concerns they might have.