Unconscious Bias is Simply A Weed That Has Not Been Discovered

Many people probably believe they aren't prejudiced. We trust ourselves to be ethical and impartial, too. Inside the workplace, however, we likely believe we’re true decision makers, able to objectively determine a candidate or employee’s overall performance and accomplishing a rational and honest end. Yet it’s clear from years of research that we all have biases.

Why do we assume this? We make countless choices without understanding them.

Eleven million pieces. That’s the quantity of data our brains are confronted with at any given moment.

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You are probably familiar with research showing that the brain can only approximate forty of these bits of data. So, what does our brain do? It creates shortcuts to make assumptions. This is what researchers call unconscious bias.

Take a moment to view this extraordinary short video from the management consulting firm PWC on unconscious bias and its corresponding blind spots. 

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Read: Do you have ‘unconscious bias’ in hiring and promotions?

So, it’s a natural procedure for our brains to absorb information and classify it as excellent or terrible, comfortable or uncomfortable. It’s normal to have blind spots or biases. All of us do. But as individuals, we should build awareness of what they are; unconscious or not. Primarily, due to the fact they could negatively and unfairly impact the people round us. We assume we're making sound, rational choices, and our reason could well be generally true. But our subconscious brain is operating against us, and we have to be disciplined enough to check it and evaluate it.  

Read: 3 Ways of Avoiding A Non-Inclusive Workplace Culture

This requires effort. Learn how we can help you find the blind spots to help your organization compete to win.

About Jim Woods

Jim is President of Woods Kovalova Group with offices in Denver, CO and Kiev, Ukraine. He has advised and trained Fortune 1000 companies, U.S. Military, Government, small business and individuals seeking performance improvement. Jim is a former U.S. Navy Seabee and earned a master’s degree in organizational development and human resources. He has taught leadership and human resources at Villanova, Colorado Technical University and Dickinson University. To have Jim work with your organization please schedule an appointment here.