Unconscious or hidden bias is the subconscious attribution of particular qualities to members of a certain social category such as gender or race and typically develops along the lines of our values and life experiences.
In his article “Exploring Unconscious Bias,” Howard Ross, founder & chief learning officer at Cook Ross, Inc., explains that “Our fundamental way of looking at and encountering the world is driven by this ‘hard-wired’ pattern of making unconscious decisions about others based on what feels safe, likeable, valuable, and competent.”
While these partialities will pop up just about everywhere in life, they are especially harmful in the workplace and can affect friendships, teams, succession planning programs, performance reviews and hiring practices.
In a recent WSJ online article, “Bringing Hidden Biases Into the Light,” Denise Russell Fleming of BAE Systems, Inc. admits to “overlooking quieter colleagues during meetings. ‘I may have not made the best decisions’ because of inadequate input from introverts,’ she says, adding that she tends to favor more talkative personalities.”
Understanding and identifying our unconscious biases in the workplace requires a careful examination of our attitudes and actions. Overcoming and eliminating them may not be easy, but is necessary if we want to encourage respectful, engaged and successful organizations. Specific unconscious bias training is a first step to helping all employees in an organization recognize and overcome biases.
Please join @WeKnowNext at 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 5 for #Nextchat with special guest John Hudson (@JohnPHudson). We’ll chat about hidden bias in the workplace and how organizations can recognize and remedy the practices that impede diversity and growth.
Q1. How does hidden bias in workplace affect an organization?
Q2. How can hidden bias in the workplace hurt leaders when building management teams?
Q3. Are blind resumes (resumes without the applicant’s name or address) a remedy to hidden bias in hiring? Why or why not?
Q4. How can unconscious bias creep into performance reviews?
Q5. How does generational (Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers) hidden bias manifest itself in the workplace?
Q6. What are some hidden biases in the workplace other than of race and gender?
Q7. Other than training programs, what are some other ways to identify and remove hidden bias in the workplace?
Q8. How will emerging majorities and changing U.S. workforce demographics affect hidden biases in the future?
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