This book will help us neutrally shift from our biases and overcoming it some of the time but shows how that is nearly impossible to overcome all the time.
Unconscious biases are a fact of life. We all harbor them – and take them into the workplace. Simply bringing them into the workplace can stifle diversity, recruiting, efficiency, and even retention efforts. Simlarly, it can unknowingly shape an organization’s culture as well. Unconscious bias can skew talent and performance reviews. It ultimately affects who gets hired, developed and promoted.
I feel like writing this blog about unconscious bias is a product of my unconscious bias affecting the way I write. Consciously I write towards my reaction and unconsciously impact it. See what I did there?
Unconscious bias is indeed universal and permeates since our earlier ancestors. Biases may come from a lot of variables and not just only from what we perceive or digest, but unconsciously it comes from association from past experiences, information provided and gathered, or simply sticking to a particular point of view.
A COMMON UNCONSCIOUS BIAS IS “COMMITMENT CONFIRMATION”.
It is rare to still see that in some parts of the world slavery or the thought of a different race than the predominant group is viewed inferior or is at a disadvantage. No matter how skewed this kind of perception is, the mind attaches to what it thinks is right. This creates a shockwave of biases in its preceding culture, thus the “Commitment Bias” live on.
Bias is rooted in the brain.
In other words, our brain evolved into mentally compartmentalizing things to help make sense of the world. Another bias mentioned in the book is “Stereotyping“.
Stereotyping occurs when we digest information and the brain, or our biases, tag that information with the general description to which we can quickly sort it into.
For example, downloading is piracy and piracy is “bad”. This explains commercials tagging piracy as a CRIME. What they don’t mention are piracy issues involving content uploaded on the internet. On the other hand, privately exchanging information over the internet (a simple website sign up, for example) is not categorically “bad.” Perfect example of bias right there.
Unconscious bias is also caused by conditional learning. For example, if you had a bad experience with someone belonging to particular group, you will have a negative impression of that group as well.
Conditional learning is a double edged blade. From a survival point of view, this mental grouping into good or bad helped the brain make quick decisions about what was safe or not safe and what was appropriate or not appropriate.
If Tom got stuck in traffic on his way to work for a significant amount of times, Tom will eventually learn to take a different route and avoid traffic.
In the workplace, if a mistake is being committed habitually by an employee, that behavior helps the management tag that individual and the associated behavior to avoid hiring a person with the same attribute in the future.
OVERCOMING AND SHIFTING TO NEUTRAL
When we say shifting to neutral, that means one cannot totally remove from its personal biases. Additionally, I found out our biases have a deep biological and social basis. This makes conquering them difficult.
There is hope, however. We humans have a great capability of using new awareness, experiences and the status quo to alter our thinking.
Combat unconsciousness through consciousness.
Organizations should practice consciousness. The book stated 6 major areas of focus that can help individuals alter their bias patterns.
To summarize, an organization should incubate awareness or develop the capacity think critically and rationally. In short, “Stop and Think”. Organizations need to be more conscious in order to overcome their biases. Embracing change can further them to become a relevant entity.
So, to uncover the organization’s biases, they must promote a clear, honest and open communication with a transparent system in place. This doesn’t create an automatic shift of awareness but it is a great stepping stone towards acceptance.
Want to read the book? Get your copy here.
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