What is unconscious bias in the workplace?

Unconscious bias can have a significant impact on so many industries when it comes to creating job positions, hiring and through general work attitudes in the office.

Overview

To better understand the potential repercussions that unconscious bias can lead to, it is easiest to first answer the question – what is unconscious bias?

We all have unconscious bias.  We are ingrained with stereotypes that we unintentionally hold onto as beliefs that can affect our behaviour and our attitude to others in the workplace.

An easy example of unconscious bias would be in a hospital, you are most likely to assume that a Doctor is a male and a Nurse is a female.

Sometimes these assumptions can be brushed off as innocent mistakes but unconscious bias can run deep within people and can cause significant disruption to work flow and productivity in the workplace.

There are several types of unconscious bias that are often at play without our conscious awareness, some examples are:

Affinity Bias – This is a tendency to like and prefer people who are similar to yourself. People who are like each other, like each other!

Attribution Bias – A tendency to attribute success and failure differently for different groups of people.

Confirmation Bias – This is where you look for confirmation that your existing ideas and assumptions on a group of people are correct.

Halo Effect – This is where you assume that someone is an overall good person simply because you like them.

Perception Bias – This is where you believe one thing as fact for an entire group of people based on misinformed stereotypes.

Group Think – This is where you try overly hard to fit into an existing culture or group which can, in turn, suppress your unique take on things and potential ideas. This can result in a loss of personal identity and lost creativity.

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