Are you aware of your own unconscious biases?

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“We’d like to believe we are open-minded, fair and without bias, but research shows otherwise. This is an important, even if uncomfortable, realisation for most of us.”

Dr. Mahzarin Banaji, Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University and co-author of Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People


We are all biased, all humans who have a brain are biased! If you don’t think you are, we even have a name for your type of bias it is called the ‘blind spot bias’.


We all have biases because they are usually very useful. We take in information and notice things at 150 items per second, but can only process at 20 items per second. So our brain creates categories and makes assumptions. It helps us to make sense of things and saves time. Much like creating a shortcut to a document you regularly use does.


Our biases help us navigate the world with less effort. Making conscious decisions takes a lot of brain power, and our brains have evolved to take shortcuts for the majority of the decisions it makes to conserve energy for the more important decisions. So, when we make a quick assessment or judgement about other people – which we do every time we see or interact with people – most of it happens unconsciously on the basis of our background, cultural environment and personal experiences. It’s fast, automatic and, as the name suggests, unconscious.


While these shortcuts help us think quicker they are not always accurate and can lead to bad decision making. This can be particularly unhelpful even damaging when we make judgements about people based on superficial differences or our tendency to be attracted to people who are like us. The reality is that if we don’t become aware of and address unconscious biases, we’ll never create an inclusive work environment with all the benefits of diverse ideas and ways of working.




How can diversity contribute to building a great workplace? Above we looked at McKinsey’s findings about how diversity drives business success, but what are some of the other benefits?:

Increased creativity: Bringing together people with different backgrounds, qualifications and experiences means a significant boost to creativity and innovative approaches to problem solving.

Higher employee engagement: When your employees come from different backgrounds, they are likely to share personal stories and develop a culture of learning from each other.

Lower levels of staff turnover: Recruiting from a more diverse background of candidates means a wider variety of education and employment experiences among your staff. As a result, staff may be more resilient and flexible, leading to lower levels of employee turnover.

Boosting your workplace profile: Organisations that are seen to promote diversity develop a positive reputation in the market, attract more staff and have happier customers



Need support around managing diversity at work? Converge International has a range of expertise around team building, conflict resolution, change management and more.


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