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Unconscious Bias & What it Can Mean for Your Company

Unconscious Bias & What it Can Mean for Your Company

Unconscious Bias & What it Can Mean for Your Company

  • Posted by Monday Ready
  • On April 11, 2020

Being biased keeps us from being objective. 

At work, there is an unsaid tug of war among members of a team to get promoted before the other. Credit is snatched away at times due to the jostle for space at the top. But, creating an environment for healthy competition is the key. This fosters positive positive work culture. 

But, are you aware that there is another factor that comes in the way of objectively selecting the right candidates for appraisals and appreciation? 

It is unconscious bias in the workplace. 

Now, what is unconscious bias? Vast amounts of information are available to the human brain. Interesting studies suggest that the brain, for its ease of processing this information tends to make concepts. These concepts sometimes lead to biases that affect the very decisions we make.

A few types of unconscious bias are based on- 


At the workplace, it is likely that someone who is from the same background- a particular college, community, personality type gets preference. It is because

encountering someone fundamentally different from our expectation also elicits a stronger activation in the amygdala (a part of the brain) as compared to encountering someone who is seen as the norm. 

Gender Bias:

Preference to male employees for positions of ‘team leader’ is part of gender bias. Female employees being called “aggressive” when they are confident or assertive is a clear sign of gender bias in the workplace.

Unacceptable Interaction:

Building on gender bias, newly coined terms like ‘bropropriation’, mansplaining are occurrences that have serious consequences in an organizational environment. Bropropriating is when an idea presented by a woman is sidelined but jumped upon when the same is proposed by a man. Mansplaining is when a man explains something to a woman or talks over her, assuming she doesn’t know when the reality might be far from that.

Height Bias:

According to the American Psychological Association, men who are taller are perceived to have leadership. The average CEO is said to be 3 inches taller than the others. At the workplace, it is good to be aware of this.

Halo & Horns Effect:

The mind tends to build a skewed image of a person based on an impression. 

Halo effect- Say, an HR representative thinks highly of an employee, he or she is likely to believe the employee will be a performer in all projects.

Horns effect is when an employee perceives his subordinate as inefficient for a prolonged period after an individual incident where the employee didn’t perform.

These biases popping up in the office can pose obstacles in reducing attrition rates and curbs the growth of the team at the same time. So you must be thinking- How to minimize unconscious bias at the workplace? Well there are ways to work around this and a few of them are as below:

Learn and Speak up:

Awareness of this phenomenon has to be spread through campaigns. Fellow employees have to be held accountable for the way they make decisions and what they say at the workplace. Encourage others to speak up when they encounter such an issue.

Set an Example:

Merit-based appraisals of employees after consulting with immediate superiors or reporting managers set a positive example. 

Do your Home-work:

Figure out where biases are likely to hit your organization. It may be during hiring, appraisals, sending employees on-site, role delegation, etc. Planning around these decisions will help your organization bypass the problem of unconscious bias.

Promote Diversity:

Let there be a good mix of male and female employees. Ensuring that people from all backgrounds feel welcome at the workplace- in meetings, over lunch and snack breaks, etc. can go a long way in beating unconscious bias in the office.

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