An unconscious bias is a preconception towards someone or a situation triggered by the brain and happens to us unknowingly. This includes making a judgement about people and or situations based on cultural background, gender, color, school attended and qualifications among others. Training to avoid unconscious bias is essential for all organizations but it may be tough to achieve without the essential resources.
There may be over 150 unconscious biases that have been identified to date but the most common and recognized are listed below.
These are biases formed based on sensory inputs like touch, smell, sight, taste or hearing. An example is when an employer makes a hiring decision based on looks of the candidate being interviewed. This type of bias can be challenged when an organization decides to be neutral on how they perceive others.
It is created by making decisions or thinking like a group in a manner that is damaging to personal responsibility or creativity. A simple example is when the majority of a department meet non-procedurally over tea break to discuss the decision over a situation. Most employees will decide as per the majority.
The bias is as a result of interpreting new evidence as a confirmation of pre-existing evidence. Take, for instance, an employer assuming that an employee did not perform because they were not serious given past performance.
It is created through warming up to people that bring you personal comfort. For example, an employee would prefer interacting with another of the same ethnicity or same color.
The halo effect is created when one uses one positive impression of a person to impact other performances. For instance, a supervisor generally describing the performance of an employee as good without listing the key areas of great performances alongside weaknesses.
Holding people accountable for identifying these biases may be an intimidating task but through unconscious bias training, organizations can ignite the conversation on how best they can create welcoming environments for employees.