Is our consciousness biased

Recognize the bias in the workplace

Workplace Bias

For many companies, integration in the workplace is an important goal that can be difficult to achieve. Sometimes unconscious biases affect our ability to be truly inclusive. Unconscious or implied bias means that we are not aware of this attitude. It is therefore beyond our control. This bias occurs automatically in our brain, where quick judgments and assessments are made about people and situations. Our origins, cultural surroundings and personal experiences have an impact on these judgments.

Unconscious bias inhibits equal opportunities. It stands in the way of employing a diverse workforce and developing committed employees, using their very special experiences and perspectives and guaranteeing innovative cooperation. Workplace bias can appear anywhere. Mostly, however, it is the areas of recruiting, pre-selection, performance evaluations and feedback, coaching and further development as well as promotions. In a survey, Pew Research Center found that 4 in 10 people think there is a double standard when it comes to women trying to get into top management in politics or business. The Corporate Leavers Survey is an American study carried out by the Level Playing Field Institute. It found that more than 2 million employees and managers leave their jobs of their own free will each year. This is entirely due to unfair treatment in the workplace. As a result, US employers lose $ 64 billion in annual sales.

Take a look at the following statements. These are unconscious beliefs that some of us have. The following beliefs are excerpts from the list in an article in The Huffington Post by Trudy Bourgeois:

  • Men are better leaders.
  • Black women are "bitter".
  • Women all have a maternal instinct.
  • Latino men are lazy.
  • Asians are good technicians.

While many of us would not say or truly believe any of the above, our subconscious could cause us to make decisions based on these archetypes created by the media and cultural misunderstandings. So let's take a closer look at where and how bias manifests itself in the workplace.

In-group bias

As human beings, we are drawn to what is familiar to us. In-group bias is the process of favoring someone who is like you and excluding those who are not part of your natural or immediate group. This can have a significant impact on the working environment. However, we can address this by addressing those who are not immediately similar to us. And often you will find that they actually have a lot in common.

The impact of unconscious bias on employee productivity

Every day we go to work and make decisions, most likely without realizing that we are excluding others in the process. But according to brain research - you will remember the 11 million pieces of information our brain can process only 40 - we cannot make the best decisions if we are unaware of our biases and how they are expressed in the workplace. In what areas does this unconscious bias emerge in the workplace?

There are frequent situations in which an unconscious bias can secretly, quietly and quietly cause inadvertent marginalization in the workplace.

Interviews / recruitment procedures

If you always select your job applicants in the same places, in the same schools, using the same recommendations, you will always get similar candidates. In addition, if the HR team itself is not composed of diverse people, it will be difficult to see such diversity. Objective recruitment criteria are important in order to eliminate bias and to ensure more equal opportunities in the recruitment process.

Coaching / further development

Assumptions and stereotypes have an impact on who takes on the more interesting and possibly more demanding tasks (many business trips or tasks abroad). Feedback is conveyed in different ways, either directly or more indirectly, especially between different genders.

Performance evaluation

As you measure and evaluate performance, ask yourself the following questions. Are the tools for evaluating employees impartial? What criteria are used to fine-tune the performance evaluation? Is it geared towards different personality styles? Do you actively promote employee diversity?

Daily handling

Communication between colleagues, managers and employees is extremely diverse. Some people get a task done right away, while others take more time to trust their co-workers to deliver the required results. Recognition and praise come in different ways, and it's important that you understand what motivates each person to come to work, perform, and keep engaged. The most important thing is not to lump people together. The prerequisite for this is that you know your bias. You will remember: Our brain guides us - unconsciously!


Where have you been biased yourself in the workplace so far? When and how were you exposed to prejudice yourself?

The positive effects of diversity and inclusion

So how can we control our bias and promote diversity and inclusion in our companies so that equality of opportunity arises in the workplace? The best tool is ourselves. We have the opportunity to distance ourselves from a situation and let it go through our heads. When we become aware of our prejudices, and when we know that we should focus our attention on people outside the "hip group", it becomes easier for us to consciously question every decision we make and to ensure that we are not guided by biases but rather that we keep our biases in check. Amy Lazarus, CEO of Inclusion Ventures, suggests that even the act of writing "I'm Biased" on a sticky note and placing it on your computer screen can help you reduce the bias because you are more aware of it.

If we diversify the people we hire, develop and promote, if we behave in a dynamic and inclusive manner, we can eliminate the unintended negative effects of our unconscious biases and achieve better results. As the studies have shown, the diversity in all its forms has the following advantages:

  • Better financial results, better customer satisfaction and more philanthropy
  • Many different ideas provide innovative solutions
  • Provides a cross-section of global customer profiles and purchase decisions

In the next module, you'll learn how to create a culture of inclusion for all by implementing our ally approaches to equal opportunities.