How to Avoid Unconscious Bias at Work?

Let’s say you’re considering two of your coworkers for a promotion. Although Jorge and Felipe have excellent abilities, so choosing between them is tough, but you choose Jorge since he appears to have fantastic marketing ideas for the goods.

Depending on the statistics, you believe you’ve made the proper decision. And what if your statement was based on something other than entirely, and you were completely unaware of it? It’s easy to be unconsciously biassed about color, gender, age, socioeconomic status, and other factors, as difficult as it may seem to accept. Is it possible that your choice to pass on Felipe was influenced in part by his social standing?

In truth, our instinctual instincts may affect our attitudes and actions toward others just as much as our intellectual cognitive processes. And that buried motivation influences everything you do, from what you eat for supper to who you choose to lead the next meeting.

Because the number of options we confront all day would be overpowering if we were to actively analyze each one, our minds are designed to make unconscious choices. That is to say, there is a direct relationship between our subconscious thoughts and our actions and behaviors. It’s also vital to know that decisions made at work aren’t influenced by biases.

We’ll look at why we make these subconscious judgments as well as how to prevent them in this blog.

What is Unconscious Bias? Why do we have it?

According to research, we categorize individuals and objects based on clearly visible characteristics such as age, weight, skin color, and gender. However, we also categorize people based on their educational level, handicap, sexuality, accent, social position, and job title, giving presumptive characteristics to everyone we unconsciously place in those categories.

This system’s “benefit” would be that it reduces our effort and time when it comes to digesting information about individuals, allowing us to devote more mental energy to other activities.

The obvious downside is that it might lead to our making conclusions about them and acting on those beliefs. As a consequence, even if we don’t believe in preconceptions, we have a propensity to depend on them.

We could have subconscious unfavorable attitudes about people beyond our own group, no matter how neutral we think they are. However, the more we are exposed to various groups of individuals, the less bias we will feel toward them.

How Discrimination affects our Decision

While we may not be conscious of our prejudices, and even if we are, we prefer not to accept them, they can have negative repercussions on how we manage and the people we manage.

Perceived discrimination (how individuals feel when they are discriminated against) has been shown in studies to impact several aspects of their performance, including commitment, job satisfaction, and work stress.

When conducting employee performance reviews, for example, you may be impacted by unconscious prejudice. If your employees believe this is the truth, or are just experiencing the repercussions of your unintentional discrimination, it may lead to mistrust, bad morale, and a higher probability of good individuals leaving your company.

If a team member believes you have prejudiced against him or her, even unintentionally, it might have a variety of consequences for you. He could file a claim against you or perhaps leave your company, citing discrimination as a cause. Make sure you’re familiar with the discrimination legislation in the country wherever you work, as well as your own and your colleagues’ rights and duties.

Advantage of Diversity

Race, gender, age, sexuality, education, and socioeconomic status are examples of distinctions between people. Diversity in the workplace has risen as a result of globalization, communication, and mobility, and will most certainly do so in the future.

Organizations that value diversity and build mechanisms to promote it can enjoy a variety of benefits:

Adaptability has improved

A group of people with diverse origins can offer a wider range of viewpoints and solutions to challenges. (Researchers discovered that groups with varied problem solvers outperform high-ability groups.)

Customer service should be improved

Diverse individuals provide a wider range of talents and abilities, as well as sensitivity for other cultures, allowing them to better fulfill the demands of global consumers.

More creativity is required

Organizations with a diversified leadership team are more likely to succeed. According to Forbes research, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a significant driver of internal innovation and corporate development.
Recruitment and retention will be easier. Accepting candidates regardless of color, gender, age, or background allows you to hire from a broader pool of prospects, increasing your chances of hiring the finest individuals on the market.

How to avoid Unconscious Bias?

To combat unconscious prejudice, businesses must have clear policies and procedures in place. There are, however, a number of measures you can take to examine your own prejudices and establish a welcoming workplace for your staff.

Identify Your Personal Bias

You must be honest with yourself about the preconceptions that you are subjected to. For example, you may cognitively believe that men and women are equally competent leaders, but as a woman, you believe that males lack the empathy and people skills that women possess. This unconscious bias may affect your behavior, leading to the exclusion of male candidates from specific tasks or positions.

Unconscious prejudice may be present in the recruitment process. People may unconsciously prefer applicants from their own familiar backgrounds, as we’ve seen. However, you may take efforts to mitigate this prejudice. For example, make sure your job advertisement doesn’t favor one set of people over another (for instance, use words that appeal equally to men and women). Also, instead of reading one resume at a time, read several sides by side. In that manner, you may concentrate on the specified performance and talents rather than on concerns like gender.

Unconscious biases can be discovered and reduced using neurological testing and exercises. Taking the Iq Test (IAT), developed by Harvard, Virginia, and Washington universities is one technique to expose your own unconscious prejudice. This metric assesses the degree of your connections between ideas, such as race or sexuality, and stereotype evaluations, such as whether such notions are good or terrible.

Another good exercise is to envision yourself having a pleasant interaction with the group toward whom you have a prejudice. Visualizing a scenario can have the same behavioral and psychological impacts as really experiencing it, according to research.

Concentrate on the people

Many businesses are so focused on their operations that they forget about their employees. Of course, you’ll need time to create reports, define job descriptions, and set up performance assessments, but it’s also critical that you set expectations, explain strategies, and provide and receive feedback to your whole team.

Set clear, SMART goals that are fair to everyone in the team. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound objectives are those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. When discussing performance difficulties, focus on people’s strengths and accomplishments rather than their flaws and weaknesses.

Exposure to biases should be increased

Many businesses believe that their anti-discrimination measures are sufficient, resilient, and effective, therefore it’s possible that they miss some small biases. Declare your commitment to respecting diversity in the workplace. Saying them aloud or writing them down sends a strong message to everyone you work with, as well as your own subconscious.

Remember that even if you don’t agree with negative stereotypes, exposure to them can reinforce their impact on your behavior, so try utilizing positive imagery in the workplace, such as posters, newsletters, reports, films, and podcasts.

To help remove prejudices, surround yourself with positive words and pictures about individuals you might have unfavorable stereotyped views about. But be careful not to fall into the trap of embracing stereotypes that, despite their more positive tone, are just as limiting and restricting for their subjects.

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