Reflecting on Unconscious Bias

Exploring Unconscious Bias is one of the foundation elements of the RoCaro offer.  We understand the importance of self-awareness to build inclusive leadership competence and unconscious bias is one of the ways that our leadership academy supports businesses and individuals in this area.

What is Unconscious Bias? 

Unconscious bias or implicit bias exists in all of us.  Whether it is related to diversity or inclusion or not unconscious biases shape the way we think and is something that we are blissfully unaware of until circumstances or focus forces us to identify and acknowledge its existence.

Unconscious Bias can be used for both positive and negative purposes although most if the discourse is around negative biases.  However, because biases are developed through stereotypes and the brain gathering evidence to support or disrupt the stereotype, the outcome can be positive.  For example, when we make buying decisions, we may favour particular brands or products.  This may be because our brain has consistently received positive messages about that brand or product, potentially through high levels of satisfaction or happiness with that product.  Similarly, if one brand often malfunctions or requires repairs your brain is more likely to reject the thought of buying or using that brand again.

Unfortunately, the same is true of how your brain reacts to people.  Negative experiences and images of people can create unconscious biases that then affect all our people related decision-making.  In an organisational context, this can create challenges to fair recruitment, promotion and development and all the other processes that involve people.

So, what can be done to reduce the impact of these biases? 

We encourage organisations to introduce unconscious bias testing for their people managers and influential decision makers.  This testing can be supplemented with group or individual debrief and training sessions which are developed specifically for each client and their needs.

We also recognise that unconscious bias operates at an individual level and we recommend three steps required to beat bias:

  1. Recognise your biases. Are you making decisions that may be impacted by bias? To help you understand whether you are operating from a place of bias we offer the Implicitly test.  This simple online test allows you to identify the extent to which you are likely to be making biased decisions in a range of areas including gender, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation.
  2. Explore your biases. Once you have armed yourself with the knowledge of where bias may be creeping into your decision-making, it is vital to explore what the origins and causes of the biases may be. Talk to an objective third party about it.  This may be a member of your family, a friend or trusted colleague.  Alternatively, RoCaro can offer you specialised coaching to identify the root of your biases and identify ways to manage them and minimise their impact on your decision-making.
  3. Make mindful decisions. Consider how and when you make decisions and what mechanisms you can put in place to ensure your decisions are objective and fair.  Avoid making decisions when emotional or tired as these two states will reduce your objectivity.

If you are interested in finding out more about how RoCaro can support you to explore and minimise the impact of bias for your organisation or you as an individual please do email team@Rocaro.co.uk.

 

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