Hidden Bias in the Workplace Series: An Overview

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Workplace bias takes many forms, but the result is always the same—exclusion of members of the workforce from experiences and opportunities for which they are qualified. This is the first post in a series that will walk through addressing hidden biases in the workplace. We will start with identifying biases, move on to hidden biases in recruiting, selection and interviewing processes, following up with retention strategies, and ending with evaluation and sustaining diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and efforts. 

We all have biases. We ALL do. We are often tricked into thinking that we are much more rational and objective at decision making than we are.  But we aren’t. Bias is a function of the mind – a means of decision making. We see something and make a quick assessment about what it is based on our previous experiences or learned beliefs, and then we act accordingly. If we didn’t build up these assessments over time, it would slow our processing to such a pace that we would never get anything accomplished. The problem comes when those quick decisions are not the best decisions – when we make snap judgements about someone because of the way they look or dress, the way they talk, or what part of the world they come from. But conversely, they can be life-saving, as in when we are able to react quickly to a threat that might be coming our way. Rather than trying to make the biases stop, the key is to learn how to manage them and become more aware of how they are affecting us. The ultimate question to ask yourself is not whether I am biased, rather ask yourself to identify what your biases are in this moment.

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