Unconscious Bias: 17-Step Guide On How To Avoid Biases At Workplace

Unconscious bias is based on faulty and inaccurate assumptions that almost all of us have in some way or another. It can falter our decision-making skills as it influences who is worthy and isn’t to get hired, promoted, and respected. As a result, it impacts the diversity and environment of the workplace.

The 11 Most Common Types of Unconscious Bias

1. Attribution Bias

Attribution bias affects our ability to assess others and their achievements. We label others’ achievements as luck, while their failures as incapability and personality flaws. However, the same doesn’t apply for selves and is the complete opposite.

2. Confirmation Bias

Our perception of the world around us is influenced by our preconceived notions and judgments. We subconsciously look out for familiar information to conclude about a person or a situation. It affects how we feel about someone or something.

3. Beauty or Attractiveness Bias

It associates the one with too much attractiveness as lacking competency and their success as being influenced by beauty.

4. Conformity Bias

  • Conformity bias influences our independent decision-making as we tend to pick up others’ perspectives to align with them to please them.
  • This bias is a big problem as it can lower the diversity of views, inhibiting the generation of new ideas. It can lead to senior members, directly influencing hiring and promotions.
  • Conformity bias can hamper the business growth and performance due to lack of diversity and poor assessment.

5. Name Bias

We share an instant connection with those who share the same or similar names. However, if this influences our decisions and behavior, it is due to name bias.

Many studies observed that name bias is highly prevalent in the US and is faced by those with non-caucasian names. It results in one undermining one’s potential only because of having a non-caucasian name.

6. The Halo Effect

The Halo effect is an unconscious bias type, wherein we put someone on a pedestal based on an impressive quality. It colors our perception of the person and affects our judging abilities. It is common in the workplace wherein candidates from reputed institutions are favored more than others who aren’t.

7. The Horns Effect

It occurs when one person’s negative attribute becomes their whole identity, without regarding other aspects w.r.t skills or traits. For example, if one assumes their boss is highly critical only because he received construction criticism from him is due to the horns effect.

8. Gender Bias

It is the act of favoring one gender over another for specific roles or positions. Gender bias sits unconsciously in the minds due to preconceived notions about a gender’s capabilities. It results in lower opportunities for one gender than the other, even if both share a similar set of qualities and skills.

9. Ageism

Ageism is experienced by individuals, especially by older individuals of above 40 years, who are discriminated against in terms of opportunities and promotions.

10. Contrast Bias

It is human nature to compare yourself with others. We judge others and ourselves based on a set standard. If a competitive person scores fewer marks than his peers, he would critically judge himself. However, an average student can be content with his performance as he relatively scored higher than those who scored lower.

11. Affinity Bias

When someone considers others unfit for the role or promotion only because they lack shared characteristics or experiences, they are showing affinity bias.

Some Other Types of Unconscious Bias

  1. Status Quo Bias

This bias reflects such that when one continues to prefer the similar to something new or diverse, as it works well. It thus prevents the company from bringing in fresh talents due to non-updated hiring policing.

  1. Perception Bias

Perception bias occurs when we make assumptions about someone based on the limited, often incorrect information of the group to which the person belongs. It can result in discrimination and prevent diversity.

  1. Anchor Bias

Anchor bias is when we base our decisions heavily upon the initial piece of information received. For example, when a recruiter focuses more on the candidate’s gap year in the job rather than his solid skill set.

  1. Authority Bias

It is the tendency to follow blindly with the instructions of authority figures without their critical thinking. It can be when one bases their work unquestionably as instructed by the authority figure, even if the topic surpasses the person’s expertise.

  1. Overconfidence Bias

When one believes, highly in their capabilities than are in reality, they are under the influence of overconfidence bias. It thus hampers one’s logical thinking and decision-making ability.

  1. The Affect Heuristics

It is when our emotions take over and influence our decision-making ability. It may result in making a decision that feels right but is inaccurate.

  1.  Recency Bias

Recency bias occurs when we regard recent events with greater importance than the past. It may result in the rejection of candidates screened earlier automatically, thus favoring recently screened candidates.

  1. Idiosyncratic Rater Bias

Idiosyncratic rater bias is when we assess others on our subjective criteria and definition of success. It deems the person rating as unreliable and. The research even suggests that about 60% of a manager’s ratings are more to do with the manager than the candidate.

  1.  Illusory Correlation Bias

It is when a person draws a conclusion on someone based on two independent events or actions; it is an illusory correlation bias. Such an illusion can result in incorrect correlations and basing them on an individual’s personality or skills.

17- Step guide on How to Break-free from Unconscious Bias

  1. The hiring panel should be diverse with employees from all other cultural backgrounds to promote inclusivity.
  2. Instead of setting one as standard, have multiple comparisons.
  3. Adopt an open mindset and promote out-of-the-box thinking.
  4. Research thoroughly and have discussions among your teammates.
  5. Never finalize decisions without considering the consequences and seeking feedback from your team.
  6. Cross-question your assumptions and determine their accuracy.
  7. Don’t establish your decisions on a single possibility.
  8. Evaluate a situation logically by taking time to reflect on it.
  9. If you’re an interviewer, take breaks between interviews and ensure to keep track of all your candidates with a detailed set of notes.
  10. Design clear-cut assessment criteria and job profiles, to rule out the possibilities of gender and idiosyncratic bias.
  11. Conduct two-way mentorship programs wherein, senior member teams with a junior to foster communication to rule-out age-related stereotypes.
  12. Ensure to get the personal information of candidates removed from resumes while screening by either using software or a team.
  13. The deletion of pictures from resumes and the conduction of telephonic interviews can help to rule out beauty bias while screening candidates.
  14. Conduct multiple rounds of interviews with different levels of management to rule out the halo effect.
  15. Always base your decision on referring to multiple resources.
  16. Conduct one-to-one meets and anonymous surveys with members to make sure that everyone can express their ideas.
  17. Don’t shy away from asking questions and doing your research before finalizing your work.

In a nutshell, unconscious bias seeps into our mindset unconsciously and taints our view of the outside world. It influences our decision-making skills that can hamper our and our company’s growth. It is, therefore, vital to be aware and avoid falling into its trap.

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