4 Types of Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

a woman holding a laptop expresses an unconscious bias
“This person is young. They may be lazy.”

What is unconscious bias?

 

Unconscious bias as beliefs about individuals or groups of people that we are often unaware we have. When bias exists, your organization will struggle to recruit and retain diverse teams, and workplace inclusion will be hindered.

 

Research has shown that a diverse workforce, at all levels of an organization, is more effective. Diversity refers to the existence of variations of different characteristics in a group of people.

 

What are the different types of unconscious bias?

 

  • Affinity bias

This is when we show a preference for people we are similar to in some way, because we find them familiar and easier to relate to. This could be because of shared characteristics such as class, ethnicity, or geography or shared interests or hobbies. 

 

  • Beauty bias

This type of bias is when we base our opinion on someone’s looks. Even when we were taught not to ‘judge a book by its cover’, sometimes, we unconsciously favor attractive people for a job despite the fact that this has no relevance on their talent or skill to perform the role well.

 

  • Conformity bias

This bias refers to our tendency to take other people’s suggestions heavily to arrive at a decision, rather than make our own independent judgment.  Having a diverse team means a broader range of experiences and knowledge. This helps bring awareness to social issues we aren’t aware of and get more ideas before making a decision.

 

Gender bias starts when we write job listings. Certain terms have been found to attract applicants of one gender more than another. Gender bias also refers to a male candidate being hired for a physically demanding role, or a senior woman being asked to write minutes in a meeting.

 

It is important to take concrete and transparent steps like training employees to lessen unconscious bias in your company. This will have positive results in your company such as increased productivity and a healthier balance sheet. Take P2L’s Unconscious Bias course to help your company  implement tools to address bias through practice and long-term learning enablement.

 

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