Unconscious Bias: a work reality that requires attention and action

You might have heard about the Starbucks incident where 2 African American Men were arrested on false suspicion. It was a clear case of racial bias on the part of the store manager and the police personnel. It brought a lot of outrage over the coffee brand and dented its image. (News link)

Here is another example: Google has long celebrated the birthdays of famous leaders and innovators on its homepage with signature Doodles, and in 2014 a blogger pointed out that 77% of the year's previous ones were for men. The Doodle team, split in gender, was shocked by the breakdown and then began tracking the diversity of their commemorations.

There are many such instances that point out how an unconscious bias affects our decision making and perception about people at the workplace. Gender diversity becoming a big focus area for organizations over the last few years has shed more light on this subject.

And it is not just the orthodox biases that are out there, like, race, gender, physical ability, ethnicity, and age. There are others that are operating at an unconscious level that we have developed during our growing years through experiences and environmental conditioning. So, I may have certain biases towards a certain type of people which you or someone else might not have.

Catalyst has a very cool and crisp infographic on what unconscious bias is. Be sure to read through that. They have also added how to combat unconscious bias tips for leaders and individuals.

You can actually take a test to find and measure your unconscious biases: Go to the test site.

It is critical that unconscious bias at work is addressed by building awareness and cultivating self-reflection to gauge and control these biases.

And how are organizations doing it?

Well, Starbucks is trying to address it through a training on racial-bias that will cover almost all of its employees spread across the U.S. (Link)

Google has implemented an organization-wide training on unconscious bias which they titled re:Work and over a period of time it has come to form a great training resource. They have made this content available for you to use and you can access it here.
It is a really great set of information and tools that could help you implement your strategy around gender diversity and unconscious bias. Here is a video where Google shares how they did it:

To find out what your unconscious biases are, or help your colleagues do it, nominate yourself for a training workshop or even take your whole team for one. A few recommended books that could also be useful in your endeavors:

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Image source: https://gp1.com/wisc-city-looks-eliminate-unconscious-bias-hiring/