Unconscious bias refers to a preference that we are unaware of or, in some cases, only slightly aware. It seems to be outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically. It is triggered by our brain making quick judgments of people and situations influenced by our background, cultural environment, and personal experiences.
Why do we, as Human Resource professionals, need to check our own Unconscious Bias?
- Recognize and admit your own Unconscious Bias
- Recognize that it may be more powerful than you think it is
- Do an honest moral and ethical inventory of what Unconscious Bias does
- Become aware of it in yourself and raise awareness in others
- Address Unconscious Bias
- Recognize how your biases can influence workplace decisions and interactions and how recognizing your biases can help you make more informed decisions
- Once you acknowledge your own biases, see how the relationship between unconscious bias, diversity, and inclusion and preventing discrimination all work together
- Continue your education – the more you know about people different than you the more you will understand bias. I am not saying you have to like those people, but try to look at it through their bias, then decide if this is someone you want in your life – or not.
HR Professionals have an amazing opportunity to model positive behavior. Changing unconscious bias takes a personal willingness of stopping for a minute and examining one’s assumptions.
Jennifer Eberhardt, a Stanford Psychologist, has studied unconscious racial bias for years. “We could practice adding friction to our own lives,” Eberhardt says, “by interrogating ourselves and slowing ourselves down … just being aware when we’re beginning to make stereotypic associations.” As she concludes in her book, Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do, “There is hope in the sheer act of reflection. This is where the power lies and how the process starts.”