2 min read

Understanding and overcoming unconscious bias in the workplace

Understanding and overcoming unconscious bias in the workplace

Unconscious bias still remains one of the most challenging barriers to achieving true inclusivity, especially in the work place.

It can lead to a lack of diversity, and can create an environment where not all employees feel valued or included - This not only affects morale and productivity of the team, but can also have broader implications for the companies success and reputation.

It's crucial to understand and recognise what unconscious bias are, so we can actively work to mitigate it's impact.

What is unconscious bias?

Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. This means they could make a decision influenced by false beliefs or assumptions. Sometimes also called 'stereotyping'.

Everyone can think in a way that involves unconscious bias at some point, but it's important to be aware of it and not let it affect our behaviour or decisions.

examples of unconscious bias

How do we overcome unconscious biases it in the workplace?

Here are some key steps:

  • Awareness:

    The first step in overcoming unconscious bias begins with increasing your own self awareness when making any judgements. When making decisions, take your time and do not rush. Ensure that you justify decisions by considering the evidence available, and record the reasons for your decisions. Making decisions together as a team can help mitigate the biases of one individual. Be open to conversations and challenges around decisions and potential biases.

  • Inclusivity:

    Inclusion aims to recognise, respect and value people’s differences to contribute and realise their full potential by promoting an inclusive culture for everyone in the workplace. This could include a blind recruitment process - removing names, pictures and genders from applications.
  • Diversity:

    Having a diverse hiring panel and leadership team will encourage further diversity within a business. We must all understand that each individual is unique, and we must recognise their individual differences, valuing those differences will attract diverse talent.
  • Education:

    Offering Diversity and Inclusivity training to teams, covering topics on how to be conscious of biases within a workplace.

  • Feedback:

    Be open to conversations and challenges regarding unconscious biases.
    Encourage 360-Degree feedback for things like reviews, minimising the impact of any single individual's bias

  • Environment:

    Foster an environment where employees feel safe to discuss issues related to biases and discrimination without fear of retribution or further unconscious biases.

Key benefits of an inclusive working environment:

  • Happier Employees: An inclusive environment fosters a sense of belonging, significantly improving the overall employee experience.

  • Culture of Growth and Learning: Inclusivity creates a thriving culture where employees are encouraged to grow and learn continuously.

  • Educated and Skilled Workforce: A diverse workplace enhances the knowledge and skills of the workforce through varied perspectives and experiences.

  • Attract and Retain Top Talent: Inclusivity helps in recruiting and retaining higher-quality, diverse candidates, strengthening your team.

  • Increased Productivity: Inclusive environments boost overall employee productivity by promoting a supportive and collaborative atmosphere.

Addressing unconscious bias is not a one-time thing but an ongoing process of education, reflection, and action. We all have the responsibility to lead by example, create inclusive environments, and ensure that all employees have the opportunity to thrive.

By acknowledging our own biases and actively working to mitigate them, we can make significant strides towards a more equitable and inclusive workplace.


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