Your brain is constantly flooded with information that is demanding attention. You can only pay attention to one thing (or 40 bits) at a time. This is why unconscious biases are so valuable, they cut through the clutter!
Unconscious biases are snap judgements or pattern maps that your brain uses to process all the information. They are valuable but can work against you.
Although you believe you are objective, the data proves otherwise. Every human being is biased and makes assumptions that are inaccurate. HERE is a video from Google that explains. You are biased and it matters.
Benefits from reducing bias:
- Stop overlooking great ideas
- Make better decisions
- Recognize individual potential as you hire, promote and reward people
- Create a more welcoming and inclusive workplace for everyone
Specific actions you can take to tackle bias include:
- Use a structured decision making process (get agreement on definition of success, criteria, have a discussion about the options and be clear about what is or isn’t relevant to making the decision)
- Learn about unconscious bias and tell other people about it. Take time to better understand how bias works. Watch a video, read a book or do some internet research. Once you know more, share what you have learned with others.
At the SIOP Conference, Lazlo Bock shared that they’d spent a lot of time focused on addressing diversity and inclusion without much change in the organization. Once they started training on unconscious bias, they made huge progress in diversity. What if organizational diversity programs are focused on the wrong lever to effect change?
Google believes so strongly in the value of awareness around unconscious bias that they are giving their materials away for free. If you’d like to get better educated on bias and how you can improve your decision making check it out this video. You will learn how to give your first thoughts a second look.
The research on bias is fascinating. When you tackle unconscious bias within your team you will improve collaboration by supporting and encouraging diverse perspectives, talents, and ideas. This connects to the insight we shared on the importance of creating psychological safety in teams.