Q: Can you offer some examples of unconscious bias in the workplace and how to become more aware of them?
Greg, from HR
A: Hi Greg, let’s start by explaining what an unconscious bias is. A simpler term for it would be accidental discrimination. We as humans make very quick judgments of people without even realizing it. Our biases are influenced by our background and personal experiences. For example, a woman may believe that men have weaker people skills or are not as empathetic. Men may think that males are better leaders. One of the most common places to see people having an unconscious bias is during a recruitment or hiring phase. A study of science faculties in higher education asked its staff to go through a pile of identical job applications. The only things setting the applications apart from one another was the gender of the name on the application.
Science faculties were more likely to:
- Rate male candidates as better qualified than female candidates
- Want to hire the male candidates rather than the female candidates
- Give the male candidate a higher starting salary than the female candidate
- Be willing to invest more in the development of the male candidate than the female candidate
Study: (Moss-Racusin et al 2012)
These findings may seem shocking to some, but the truth is that we all have an unconscious bias. There is a great quiz you can take to determine if you have one or not. You can find out how your mind associates genders with certain roles. Take it now: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html
- Ensure your job description does not use words that appeal equally to men and women. (Test your job description here:textio.com)
- Read a group of resumes side by side rather than just one a time so you can focus more on their skills and experience, rather than their gender.
- Research your country’s discrimination laws.
- Utilize all the strengths and talents of your co-workers, regardless of age, gender or race.
By increasing your awareness of your own unconscious biases, you can hopefully avoid your employees or coworkers leaving your company and listing discrimination as the reason for leaving.