Why Unconscious Bias In The Workplace Needs Urgent Solutions
Our minds works quickly in our offices coping with deadlines and making decisions, often in an atmosphere of uncertainty. A recent article in Forbes/Tech introduces a software product capable of identifying job candidates from diverse cultural backgrounds. It was a move to address the problem of unconscious bias in the workplace by choosing people from different backgrounds. They were offered emotional intelligence inputs and trained to work with each other right from the start.
The solution was bound to have long-term positive effects and even corporate giants like Google announced a 20% yearly increase in diversity in the workplace during 2015. However, technological advances tend to appear suddenly and without warning. Biases in the office already exist; how do you remove them once and for all? The need to understand how it has evolved in the workplace must be addressed.
How The Brain Takes Over And Creates Bias
The subconscious mind takes over in making quick decisions about co-workers and establishing set patterns to accomplish tasks. Here is where unconscious bias creeps in and needs lasting solutions to create an environment that promotes productivity.
In a desperate attempt to make sense of what happens in the workplace, the mind creates good and bad “tags” for objects and even persons influenced by our cultural environment, social background, and experiences from the past.
Bias Directly Affects Functionality in the Workplace
There are nearly 150 different types of unconscious bias in the workplace making it a daunting task for organizations to address and resolve all of them.
However, types of bias that can cause serious damage to the working environment include:
- Working with assumptions and stereotyping people according to groups, negatively impacting relationships with individual members within the group.
- Developing a tendency to establish working relationships only with people we will think are similar to ourselves.
- Sacrificing innovation and creativity when people try desperately hard to identify themselves with a certain working group and in the bargain lose their personal identities.
- Forcing oneself to gather information that confirm to their assumptions and beliefs. Unconscious bias is generated when people with similar thoughts meet and accommodate each other thereby evading any chance of exposing themselves to social change.
What Individuals Can Do To Overcome Bias in the Workplace
- Balanced thought processes are needed to consider various factors before establishing a routine. Being an outgoing person actually helps in this case, as interaction with more co-workers is bound to generate balanced views leading to a better understanding of each other.
- Adapt to small changes at a time. Negative impacts are limited giving individuals more opportunities to quickly resolve problems.
- Develop a higher sense of awareness and make conscious effort to improve relationships continuously.
- Avoid taking stereotype based information at face value and gather input from situations and experiences.
- Be a good listener and try to actively participate in improving procedures and processes.
- Ask questions.