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What is Unconscious Bias?

Majority of organisations, clubs and workplaces actively take steps to ensure they are inclusive and provide an environment that is welcoming to the whole community.

They would agree with statements such as “We choose the best person for the job regardless of diversity”, or, “We promote a respectful work environment and treat everyone equally”. However, we often treat different people differently without realising we do.

sample representation listUnconscious Bias refers to an assumption that we make about another person based on common cultural stereotypes. It is the result of a mental process by which the brain uses associations that are so ingrained that—since we are not aware of them and, thus, cannot control them.

Our biases are shaped by our experiences and by cultural norms, and allow us to filter information and make quick decisions.

Sometimes these mental shortcuts can lead us astray, especially when they cause us to misjudge people.

Unconsciously, we tend to like people who look like us, think like us and come from backgrounds similar to ours.

The reality is that people belonging to dominant societal groups, i.e. white males, experience micro-advantages in their careers.

People belonging to minority groups, such as ethnic or those with a disability, are likely to find either they need to work harder for the same rewards, or that the process of promotion will be slower.

We cannot eliminate bias. However, we can acknowledge that bias does exist and that various types of bias clearly have an impact on decision-making.

This simple exercise demonstrates the level of diversity that may be within a particular team in your organisation or club.

It allows you to see who is represented, if there is more representation from one particular box, and if those from minority populations are represented.

You may find this a useful tool, to uncover any unconscious bias and to advocate for actions that will help minimise bias.

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