Many are taking active steps to be more inclusive whether that be in the workplace or more generally in their everyday lives. Part of this is recognising, accepting, and actively challenging something called an unconscious bias.
Unconscious biases are attitudes and assumptions that we subconsciously make about those we encounter in our day-to-day life. They often form during childhood and are influenced by our social, cultural, and personal experiences and backgrounds. Biases are often formed around protected characteristics such as gender and race but can also commonly be based upon other characteristics such as age, weight, and height.
Even though these biased perceptions are often accidental and go unnoticed, they have the potential to affect actions and decisions in a prejudicial way and can even cause microaggressions and discrimination.
Why is it important to recognize unconscious bias?
1. It can help you overcome your own unconscious biases, making you become a more accepting and inclusive friend, co-worker, and ally.
2. It can help you identify whether you or somebody else is a victim of unconscious bias and other forms of prejudice and discrimination.
3. It can give you the confidence to speak up and educate others on their biased behaviour and thought processes.
How can you overcome unconscious bias?
1. Be honest with yourself! Excepting that unconscious bias is a common issue and is most likely altering your perception of those around you is the first step to overcoming it.
2. Have open conversations with those around you about any unconscious biases you or they may have. Communicating with others can both help you identify your own biases but also those from others in external situations which you may not have considered before.
3. Educate yourself. Researching unconscious bias and understanding it’s many forms may make it easier for you to recognise it in your social circles. Also, attending talks and sessions with trained experts who can give professional information and advice will give you more confidence in approaching and tackling the subject.
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