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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.
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 the individual is (potentially due to them being the same gender or ethnicity), or whether the employee in question solidifies preexisting 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. At EasyLlama, we encourage swift and effective action to be taken against unconscious bias to protect individuals in your workforce.
Below are some examples of how these different unconscious biases present themselves in the workplace.
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 are of 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 of the same race and gender as the interviewer. They share several common interests. However, the second interviewee has less experience in the role for which they are being considered. Despite the first candidate being more suited to the job, the second is chosen because the interviewer felt more personally connected to them. This is a clear example of unconscious bias. The interviewer has let their background impede 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.
What Should You Do if You Suspect Unconscious Bias?
At EasyLlama, we encourage active steps to be taken to avoid unconscious bias. Companies should strive for a diverse and harmonious workforce, which has proven to be extremely beneficial to various organizations. 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.
Prevent 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 ensure that 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 any flagged issues are dealt with efficiently and systematically.
What Should 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.
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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