Implicit Bias Scenarios: 5 Steps To Effectively Tackle It

Implicit Bias Scenarios: 5 Steps To Effectively Tackle It

The Facts

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We make way for Implicit bias scenarios when we allow our attitudes, feelings, stereotypes, or beliefs to impact our judgment or understanding of other people. It generally can be on any number of characteristics, ranging from race, age, social group, appearance, marital status, children, disability, political affiliations, college attendance, etc. It is not something we do blatantly, but an involuntary process based on our deep-seated thoughts.

Some of these biases are born as early as childhood, and later they may be strengthened by friends, entertainment, and even media reports.

Types of Implicit Bias

Although there are various implicit biases, some common ones are listed below.

  • Affinity Bias

This bias tends to be more receptive to people who resemble our lives somehow. A job recruiter saying, ''I hired her because she reminded me of my sister'' is an example of affinity bias. 

  • Confirmation Bias

This bias looks for information that supports our beliefs and ignores details to the contrary. If someone says something like, ''John is from Appalachia so, of course, he is not very well educated,'' it is an example of confirmation bias at work.

  • Overconfidence Bias

Overconfidence bias is the tendency for people to think they are better at abilities and skills than they are. This false assessment of our skill levels, stemming from an illusion of knowledge or control, can lead us to make rash decisions. While leading with confidence is a good thing, it is crucial not to let it get in the way of logical thinking and decision-making.

  • Halo Effect

This bias happens when we like something about someone and, therefore, assume that everything about them must be good. When a teacher says, ''My student is well-behaved, so he must also be smart", it is an instance of the halo effect. 

  • Perception Bias

This bias stereotypes people based on the group from which they belong. For example, imagine someone saying something like, ''Many crimes are committed by this particular ethnic group, so a person of the same ethnicity must be a criminal.''

  • Bandwagon Bias

This bias is simply believing something because others believe it. You have probably seen this expressed with one of your friends saying something to the effect of, ''No one else enjoyed that movie, so neither did I.''

Why Is It Important To Tackle Implicit Bias?

Unconscious biases can hinder decision-making, impact team dynamics and leadership styles, and limit company diversity. That, in turn, can reduce equal opportunities for team members and job applicants. You can improve company diversity by tackling these biases. Increased company diversity can bring additional benefits such as:

  • Increasing Company Profitability

Teams with solid problem-solving and decision-making skills bring a competitive advantage. For example, a study found that gender-diverse companies were 21% more likely to gain above-average profitability.

  • Attracting Diverse Talent through Inclusive Hiring Practices

Companies can reach a larger talent pool by implementing inclusive recruitment strategies. Job seekers would also be more likely to apply to companies that prioritize diversity. 

  • Increasing Innovation 

Diverse teams can bring various fresh ideas to the table,  helping bring creative solutions to drive sales. According to a study, companies with diverse management teams bring 19% higher innovation revenue. 

  • Boosting Company Productivity 

University research found that tech firms with diverse management teams have 1.32 times higher productivity levels. Increased productivity can lead to more efficient project management and implementation. 

  • Encouraging Higher Employee Engagement 

Research showed that company diversity is directly related to employee engagement. Higher employee engagement can lead to higher job satisfaction, lowering the turnover rate. 

  • Making Fair and more Efficient Business Decisions 

According to another research, inclusive teams can make better business decisions up to 87% of the time. These business decisions can help improve performance and revenue. 

How Does Implicit Bias Impact Others? 

You can see from the examples we have covered above, some biases may not be that serious. Implicit bias in the workplace can have detrimental effects on employees and the organization.

Unconscious biases can present challenges to diversity and inclusion initiatives. For instance, if a business is trying to become more diverse, but one of the hiring managers has an unconscious bias against hiring outside his race, it presents a problem for the entire company.

Implicit bias can also prove to be a problem with retaining good employees. Let us say a company consistently neglects a woman for a promotion she deserves because her boss has an affinity bias toward promoting male employees. She is far more likely to leave the company.

Another negative impact is the area of annual performance reviews. Let us say an employee is well-liked by her supervisor because they attended the same college. Because of this, the supervisor may not assess their performance objectively.

All of these can add up to undermine the entire business culture. It can take an organization that strives to be diverse and inclusive and turn it, unintentionally, into one that rejects people based on a whole host of preconceived ideas.

How Can You Avoid Unconscious Biases?

Since unconscious biases exist in our subconscious, they are hard to stop completely. However, we can take some steps to reduce the impact of these biases on the decisions we make.  

  1. Learn to Recognize Examples of Unconscious Bias

The first step to avoiding it is ensuring everyone knows unconscious bias exists. That could be through meetings, awareness training, etc.

  1. Assess which Biases are most likely to affect You and Your Company

Knowing which biases are most likely to influence you will allow you to take proactive steps to help reduce their impact on your decision-making. Likewise, knowing which biases may affect the company will help you consider them when making important decisions when hiring, promoting, giving raises, etc. 

  1. Remove Bias from Your Hiring Method

That includes the wording of the job posting (avoiding gender-specific language, for example), blindly judging candidates (not looking and name or gender – base it on merit alone), or even giving candidates a sample assignment to see what their work entails. Having a structure that you follow for interviews is vital, as it guarantees a consistent and fair interview for everyone. 

  1. Diversify Management

If the senior employees are all of the same ilks, their unconscious biases will affect their decisions. Having diversity will ensure a wide array of viewpoints and help avoid biases when hiring and promoting people.

  1. Hold Employees Accountable

That does not necessarily mean you should punish employees if they decide based on unconscious bias, but you must monitor the decisions and watch for patterns. If data reveals a prejudgment, someone will have to intervene. Encourage employees to speak up if they observe a bias. 

Bottom Line 

Once you know your unconscious biases, you can take steps to mitigate their effects. By taking micro-steps such as revamping your interview questions template and encouraging cross-team collaboration, you are working towards a more diverse and inclusive workplace environment for you and your team.

There are many examples of unconscious bias prevalent in the workplace. If you do not address these, they can be detrimental to a company. By recognizing them and actively reducing their impact, you can ensure unconscious biases do not negatively affect your decisions.

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