Unconscious Bias

What is unconscious bias?
Unconscious bias can be defined as judgements or prejudice that are considered unfair, either in favour of or against a person, group or action. Unconscious thoughts can be based on stereotypes or opinions that people do not realise they have.
In a workplace unconscious bias can be related to one of the protected characteristics, under the Equality Act 2010. For example, during a recruitment process if an interviewer ignores skills and experience that a candidate has because they are a difference race or gender to them, this could be deemed as discrimination.

Types of unconscious bias
There are several types of unconscious bias these include:
• Affinity bias – When someone unconsciously prefers people that have the same qualities as them.
• Attribution bias – is how someone perceives their own actions and the actions of others.
• Beauty bias – When someone judges someone based on their appearance.
• Conformity bias – When someone’s views are swayed a lot by other people’s views.
• Gender bias – When there is a preference for one gender over another gender.
• Confirmation bias – When someone tries to back up their opinions with things rather than being objective.

Examples of unconscious bias in the workplace?
Unconscious bias in the workplace can influence any decisions that are to be made regarding promotions, recruitment and recognition.
Employers can find themselves overlooking high performers and favour employees who have similar characteristics as they do. This in turn can lead to a less diverse workplace.
Examples of unconscious bias include:
• A recruiting manager may decide to hire a certain individual because they went to the same school/college, they come from the same area or know the same people. Or a recruiting manager may not want to hire someone because of the area they come from or how they speak.
• A job candidate makes a comment in an interview, not regarding the job, that the interviewer doesn’t like and the interviewer allows that to affect their decision on giving the candidate the job.
• A manager decides that someone isn’t the right fit for their department based on how that person looks and not how well they can do their job.
• Not employing mothers for roles, as the stereotyping view is that they will have to take a lot of time off because of having children.

How can you overcome unconscious bias?
• Being aware of what unconscious bias is, and by training all employees on unconscious bias and how they may have bias without even realising it. It is important for employees to recognise and see past any unconscious bias they may have especially in the workplace.
• Taking time to make decisions and analysing all the data and facts and not making a rash decision.
• Provide evidence or reasons for any decisions.
• Focus on positive behaviours of people.
• Implement policies and procedures that help to reduce and deal with individual influences.
Adapting the recruitment process can help to eliminate unconscious bias, by removing personal information when doing candidate short-listing, such as name, age, gender and place of residence, can help to prevent any potential discrimination or unconscious bias and help to increase diversity within the workplace.

If you would like further information on unconscious bias or other HR topics please get in touch with us on 0121 516 0299 or email at info@cloverhr.co.uk


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