When you first meet someone, judging them on a plethora of factors – from gender, age and weight to attractiveness and socio-economic status – often happens instinctively, but recognising that you’re doing it is the first step to reducing any potential bias, and in so doing, treating that person fairly. This series of quick judgements can lead to unconscious bias, and research has shown that it stands to have negative effects when it comes to recruitment and decision-making at work.
So… how do you deal with it?
First, accept that unconscious bias is a thing – it’s part of human nature, and acknowledging it allows us to take the next step to tackle it.
Monitor your behaviour and reactions to people, particularly extreme ones – were they justified, or could something else be at play?
You’re more likely to fall victim to unconscious bias if you act quickly – making a fast decision or judgment can often benefit from a little more analysis.
If you have people that belong to different cultures and backgrounds at work, spend time with them and grow your cultural competence – it’ll make you more understanding of different nationalities.
Create a level playing field for your team by implementing rules that apply to everyone – banning interruptions in meetings to ensure everyone has a say and sticking to a roster for ‘housekeeping’ tasks will reduce the possibility of gender stereotyping and bias, for example.
If you become aware of any unconscious bias among any of your team members, tactfully broach the subject. If you notice that a certain type of task is always handed out to males, or females, or Maltese members in a team of mixed nationalities, for example, you need to speak up.
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