Avoiding Unconscious Bias

An unconscious mental process is hard to overcome as we cannot visibly see it.

Bias is strongly linked to stereotypes and subconscious assumptions based on a number of aspects. A few being; race, gender, sexuality, social class, job title, social status, accent, weight, disability and age. We automatically assign presumed traits to individuals or groups. And don’t say you don’t – if you have a brain, you are bias.

So, how can we avoid being bias?

  1. Understand what Unconscious Bias is
  2. Acknowledging what you are bias about
  3. Address the problem

There are a few ways of overcoming bias, each individually appropriate depending on your persona. There are a few tests and exercises that can reveal hidden bias. Regarding a business or organisation, raising awareness through teaching employees how bias works, and the reasons as to why we are subconsciously bias can help to uncover this. As people have become progressively more aware of the consequences and negative impacts bias can have, more and more organisations and businesses have adopted policies targeted at avoiding unconscious bias. Despite these actions, there is still room for subtle bias. Furthermore, the Harvard Association Test (Implicit Association Test – IAT) helps self-understanding regarding unconscious bias and reports attitudes and beliefs about topics. Meditation is also an effective way of getting to the bottom of your pre-existing biases. As well as just simply conversing with a friend, councillor or psychologist. Lastly, if you can identify that you could be bias about a certain religion or belief, make yourself go and experience an event, open day or festivity of theirs. Your certain prejudice might be unjustified, you never know.

This un-intentional way of thinking can be highly influential when it comes down to making a decision. Recruitment is an area within a business where unconscious bias may play a big part in decision making. In order to carry through effective recruitment, unconscious bias needs to be avoided.

Enough about the negative. On the flip side, human nature also involves positive bias. This is influenced by optimistic practices, respectable qualities or useful skills.

In summary, avoiding unconscious bias is not always 100% attainable. Frequently, we feel like we have made the correct decision, when actually our judgement was centred on something else that we were totally unaware of.  Attempt to train yourself to consciously change your negative bias to positive bias.