Top 5

Top 5 – How to Recognise and Overcome Unconscious Bias

August 31, 2015

Unconscious bias refers to a bias that we are unaware of, and happens outside of our awareness. This type of judgement or assessment is carried out instantaneously by your brain, based on past personal experiences, situations and our cultural background.

This response can be necessary in developing an understanding of your environment in adolesce.  As an adult, when makings judgements about people or situations in the workplace, these biases can be a hindrance and effective when they remain unconscious.

Common types of bias include gender, race, age, sexual orientation and stereotyping.  People often go through life looking to unconsciously confirm their bias.  This bias may come into play in workplace situations such as recruitment, performance management or succession planning.

In this Top5 we will look at ways to identify and overcome unconscious bias:

1. Self-Awareness – Think of ways you can get some insight into what your biases may be. A good way of doing this is through reflection or by  etting actively seeking feedback from a trusted peer or manager.

2. Role Models – if you are holding any biases around stereotypes, actively seek out people or situations that break that way of thinking. Find a positive role model that doesn’t reflect that stereotype.

3. Expand your circle – like can attract like and you often find that people with the same ways of thinking or backgrounds come together. By expanding your professional and personal circle will open you up to different ways of thinking. You may want to coach or mentor someone that is different from you.

4. Question – when you are faced with situations that may be unfamiliar or trigger a reaction or emotional response, take some time to internally question yourself. You might want to ask yourself; why do I fell this way? or What are the facts of the situation?

5. Difference is good – be mindful and respectful of peoples differences, they offer new insights and perspectives and an opportunity for learning by all involved.

Changing behaviours take time, and commitment not to default back to original ways of being. For more information on understanding differences check out our topic on developing cultures.

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