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An unconscious bias is a cognitive bias that is sitting there in one’s subconscious. It tends to influence the decisions of managers/leaders.
An example is assigning a tech-focused project to a younger employee assuming they are tech-savior than a senior employee. This judgment isn’t backed up by any concrete fact. After all, some older employees keep up with the trends and are as tech-savvy as any youngster.
This explains that unconscious bias is unintentional and can be influenced by our culture, background, and even personal experiences.
How Does Unconscious Bias Affect A Workplace?
The consequences of unconscious bias are dire for an organization. Here are some areas it can influence:
1: Hiring Process
It can impact the hiring process and diversity objectives of your workplace. HR managers end up accessing candidates on a criterion that has very little to do with their ability to perform. To avoid this, that’s why some organizations prefer working with a staffing agency denver.
A negative unconscious basis could make your employees disengage from work. They might feel demotivated and won’t be encouraged to put their ideas forward. This could also affect their relationship with other colleagues.
When employees are promoted based on bias instead of merit, the whole organization tends to suffer. Letting less-qualified employees take senior roles can create havoc. You could be missing out on employees who actually have potential.
How to Tackle Unconscious Bias?
Here are some ways of reducing unconscious bias:
1: Accept It
The first step to solve any problem is to acknowledge it. Therefore, start by acknowledging that you end up committing unintentional bias. The more you are aware of it, the better you can tackle it.
2: Understand Stereotyping
You and your employees must understand what stereotyping means because it’s the foundation of unintentional bias.
Raise awareness of stereotyping and make sure your team is mindful of their perceptions and behavior.
3: Stop and Contemplate
Most of the time, unintentional bias affects our decisions when we act fast. Slow down, my friend. Stop, think for a while, and then act.
Before making a decision, ask yourself, am I being biased? This practice will help you make decisions in the best interest of your workplace without being unfair to anyone based on stereotypes.
4: Be Transparent
Be transparent about hiring and promotion to ensure these processes aren’t biased based on sexual orientation, age, race and other factors.
If your organization is proactive about recruiting employees from diverse backgrounds, be transparent so that you are able to gain employee trust in hiring and promotion procedures.
5: Make the Meetings Inclusive
Be aware of whom you are sitting next to in a meeting and engage. Encourage all employees to equally interact and engage. Be sure all employees are heard. At the same time, employees must positively respond to constructive comments when a manager disagrees.
6: Pay Attention to Certain Characters
There are some characteristics towards which one can be biased. These include race, sex, disability, religion, age, maternity, and more.
7: Expand Your Circle
If you continue to sit with the same people every day, you are likely to act biased. Spend time with people from different academic backgrounds and cultures to broaden your mentality and understand different people from different backgrounds.
8: Don’t Make Assumptions or Rely on Your Gut
Assuming that you know the best can make you jump to the wrong conclusions. So instead of assuming, talk to others. Ask questions.
9: Speak Out
It’s important to create a company culture where every team member is allowed to speak out whenever they notice bias.
For instance, if you are feeling your boss frequently assigns projects to male colleagues, have a word with them.
10: Encourage Anonymous Complaints
Offer your employees a safe space where they can report an issue without the fear of retaliation. A good example of that is to allow them to make anonymous complaints. Then, come up with strategies to address the issues brought forward.
11: Offer Training
Every member of the organization is vulnerable to the effects of unintentional bias. Once you have been able to handle your own biases, it’s time to organize a training session in which you help your teammates to understand bias, its types, and impact, how to discover their own basis, and the strategies to overcome them.
12: Hold Your Employees Accountable
This doesn’t mean you should punish them when they make a decision based on unintentional bias. Rather, it means you should monitor or watch their pattern and intervene whenever necessary.
13: Gather Feedback
When asked employees to fill surveys, don’t forget to include questions about racial bias. You can also survey ex-employees to understand any issues they have faced and what steps they think would have helped to retain them with the organization.
Reducing the negative impact of unconscious bias is not easy. It demands commitment, effective training, efforts, and powerful mitigation strategies. If you want a healthier balance sheet, less employee turnover, more productivity, and satisfied employees, it’s time to take concrete steps for reducing the impact of unconscious bias.