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Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

Unconscious bias refers to when employees in a company are treated or approached differently due to bias held by their employers, interviewers, colleagues, or supervisors. These biases are often linked to underlying attitudes and stereotypes attributed to certain individuals or groups. These are predominantly rooted in the personal background, experience, or environment of the individual perpetuating bias. Unconscious bias is displayed in a variety of ways and can have a widespread impact on the wellbeing and dedication of employees. At EasyLlama we encourage swift and effective action to be taken against unconscious bias to protect individuals in your workforce.

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Key Examples of Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias presents itself in a variety of ways, often linked to an individual's perception of others. For example, an employee can be favored over another due to their perceived attractiveness, how relatable an individual is (potentially due to them being the same gender or ethnicity), or whether the employee in question solidifies already existing beliefs held by the individual (such as women being more social, or men being stronger). Unconscious bias can be as broad as widespread gender bias, or as specific as bias against people with a foreign-sounding name.

Below are some examples of how these different unconscious biases present themselves in the workplace:

Hiring people of color

Scenario 1, Unconscious bias in the hiring process

A company is in the process of hiring a new employee and is holding interviews. The first of the interviewees is a different race and gender to the interviewer, with different personal interests. They are well qualified for the job with good references. The second interviewee is the same race and gender as the interviewer. They share several common interests. However, this interviewee has less experience in the role they are in consideration for. Despite the first candidate being more suited to the job, the second is chosen as the interviewer felt more personally connected to them.

This is a clear example of unconscious bias. The interviewer has let their background impede on their ability to choose the more qualified candidate.

Scenario 2, Gender bias in company evaluations

A company is evaluating its employees and their success in the workplace. Male employees are being praised for their assertive attitude and quick decision making, whereas women are being criticized for being too aggressive, and making too many rash decisions.

These are only two examples of how unconscious bias can be expressed within a company or business. However, they show how discrete and undetected these biases are within the workplace.

Supervisor doing an employee review
Workplace bias

What do you do if you Suspect Unconscious Bias?

At EasyLlama we encourage active steps to be taken to avoid unconscious bias. A diverse and harmonious workforce has proven to be extremely beneficial to companies and should be striven for. If you suspect that unconscious bias is impacting individuals in your workforce, it is important to take measures to rectify this. An essential foundation for reducing unconscious bias is raising awareness of the effects of unconscious bias in the workplace.

It is vital that unconscious bias and its effects are discussed fully with employees at all levels. Many could potentially become aware of different biases they hold and begin to become conscious of when it is impairing their judgment. Training is also essential to ensuring unconscious bias does not disrupt the workplace. At EasyLlama, we provide high-quality training to a range of businesses. This ensures that biases are addressed at all levels of the workforce, and the issues flagged are dealt with efficiently and systematically.

What do you do if you are a Victim of Unconscious Bias?

If you feel you are a victim of unconscious bias, it is recommended to flag the issue first with your employer. Depending on which method you are most comfortable with, this can be either a formal or informal complaint. Alert them of the issue you have identified - providing as much detail as you can - and encourage the employer to take action through training and intervention.

If unconscious bias becomes active discrimination, you can contact a legal professional for advice.

Physical workplace bullying

Unconscious bias is often prevalent in the workplace but can be effectively tackled through awareness, training, reformation, and support. At EasyLlama, we provide help for companies in achieving these goals.

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