Avoiding Unconscious Bias in the Workplace in 2021

Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

Avoiding Unconscious Bias in the Workplace in 2021

When someone acts with unconscious bias, it means that they have made a biased decision without knowing it. In other words, anyone who unknowingly lets some factor about another person influence the way they are treated or judged, is participating in unconscious bias. The person making these biased decisions could unintentionally be making them regularly, to the point where they feel like routine judgements.

Unconscious bias can come in many forms, and in order to learn how to control them in a workplace, becoming mindful of their existence is a great first step to treating every employee and employer with the same respect. Once the workplace acknowledges that these biases could arise, they can begin to be managed.

Types of Unconscious Bias

Some common types of unconscious bias include:

Affinity Bias: liking people who are similar to you or can easily fit into the desired workplace culture.

Confirmation Bias: preferring or gravitating towards people that have the same beliefs that you support.

Ageism: treating people differently based on their age.

Beauty Bias: a person is assessed based on their level of beauty.

Weight Bias: how much a person weighs becomes a factor in how they are valued.

Attribution Bias: someone searches for reasons why people choose to behave in certain ways. People make general assumptions about why others make certain decisions or act in certain ways, without knowing the whole truth.

The Halo/Horns Effect: someone is perceived as superior because of something they have accomplished, or vice versa.

The Contrast Effect: two people are compared to one another because their performances were in close proximity to one another.

Gender Bias: someone is judged or evaluated for a role based on their gender.

Name Bias: actively treating people with certain names differently over others because it gives you a glance into their race, ethnicity or cultural practices.

Nonverbal Bias: someone is evaluated and judged based on their actions, for example, how well they make eye contact, that can impact how they are perceived.

Avoiding Bias

Some tips employers and employees may follow to stop or limit unconscious bias in the workplace include:

  • Instead of focusing on who to promote, focus on the knowledge that is required for the promotion. This could help to focus on evaluating action, instead of thinking of who is best suited for the role.
  • Implementing focus groups to open up reciprocal communication and willingness to learn and adapt.
  • Pay attention to all roles, even the positions that seem secondary to those sitting centre stage.
  • Be open about decision-making processes. Many times, people feel misinformed or left out of decisions that have impacted them. This could lead to people feeling unimportant and potentially mistreated.
  • Create a procedure or process for subjective decision making. In school, students always ask for rubrics when a professor or teacher is grading something that is greatly opinion based. This creates more structure and a way for employees to look at certain evaluations as learning opportunities instead of judgements.
  • Make time and choose to reflect. It is important that we are always asking ourselves why we have made certain decisions, or if we could have done a better job. Actively trying to do better is a great way to learn and teach yourself how to constantly adapt.

If you have any questions about unconscious bias or have experienced unconscious bias in your workplace, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.