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Could Unconscious Bias derail your career?

Learning Lounge – Learning Bite

Could your unconscious bias derail your career?

Could Unconscious Bias derail your career? We all have unconscious (or implicit) bias, i.e., the associations we hold, outside our conscious awareness and control. Unconscious bias is triggered by our brain automatically making quick judgments and assessments. Unconscious bias can both help and hinder; becoming more conscious of your own biases helps to minimise the negative consequences.

We are bombarded by information every waking moment and using patterns and stereotypes that we are familiar with helps to avoid information overload. However, by taking those mental shortcuts we also generalise based on assumptions and can then fall into confirmation bias; where we notice most what we expected to see and pay less attention to ‘inconvenient’ variations that might invalidate our original expectations.

Conscious and Unconscious Bias in recruitment.

Biases familiar to many recruiters are referred to as halo and horns. When interviewing, if a candidate has a particular quality or experience you deem to be favourable (e.g., they went to a top-ranking university) then you’re more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt on other responses to questions (as though they had a halo).

Conversely if the candidate has a quality or experience you deem less favourable (e.g., they have visible tattoos) then you’re more likely to unconsciously discount their answers and consider them less suitable (as though they have horns).

The strategic importance of equity diversity and inclusion.

Unconscious bias is top-of-mind in many organisations currently, as it plays a pivotal role in maintaining the status quo on the strategic imperative of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). The case for increased diversity has already been won financially, morally, legally, and ethically. In short, when people can be all of who they are at work they flourish, and the business thrives.

However, if a manager, peer or direct report has an unconscious bias it might mean they have lower performance expectations of someone because of their age, sex, pregnancy, race, disability etc and that in turn can affect decisions about work allocation and performance reviews.

Inclusive leadership, which might previously have been considered a progressive ‘nice to have’, has now become a vital set of personal qualities and behaviours for career progression.

Wondering if you have unconscious biases, you probably do.

Are you wondering if you have unconscious bias with respect to EDI? There’s an easy way to find out. Complete one of the free online tests available here. The tests take approximately 10 minutes each and instantly report your results.

Find out more about unconscious bias, and how to overcome it.

Do you want to find out more about unconscious bias, and how to overcome it, by participating in an honest and open conversation without fear of judgement? Please join us.

This interactive programme will use the topic of equity, diversity, and inclusion to illustrate the problem of unconscious bias and the practical solutions to overcome it. The programme will provide the opportunity for self-reflection, open discussion, and training on some of the softer skills to maximise objectivity in the workplace.

This Learning Bite was written by Dr Angela Armstrong – Our Expert in EDI & Leadership.

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