Implicit Bias: Keeping Unconscious Bias out of Decision Making
As individuals, we’ve been molded by a lifetime of unique experiences circumstances, upbringings, and situations that have subconsciously shaped the way we perceive ourselves, others, and the world around us. In an ideal world, there would be an easily accessible off-switch for these personal thoughts, feelings, and attitudes, otherwise known as unconscious biases, especially when entering the workplace and making crucial decisions. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore reality and it would be a great disservice to our community to remain blissfully ignorant of how our unconscious biases affect our actions and ultimately our personal and professional relationships with each other.
It is completely normal to feel apprehensive to discover that several unconscious biases exist within your own psyche, but do not let these negative feelings fester too long. Having bias makes you human! Secondly, being aware of your own implicit bias gives you the knowledge and power to overcome it. It is also important to keep in mind that eliminating unconscious biases is like tending to a garden; the work is never truly done. You must regularly pluck out any weeds, or else they will overcome the beautiful landscape you are cultivating.
Once you discover what your biases are, work on consciously changing any present stereotypes you may have by increasing your exposure to diverse groups of people and truly seeing them as individuals. Remember to also be mindful and take time to pause and reflect on how certain situations may be skewed one way or another with your implicit biases in mind. Lastly, have fun! Working against your own unconscious biases does not have to be a negative experience; instead, make it an opportunity to become your best self.
Harvard University has created a variety of implicit bias tests that scope a wide array of demographics such as age, sex, race, disability, gender, weight, etc. which can be helpful in identifying possible biases.
Here are some additional sources relating to implicit bias:
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