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How does unconscious bias affect leadership in business?

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What exactly is Unconscious Bias?

Every human on the planet has some form of bias. Whether they are biases towards a certain brand choice or certain ingredient in cooking. We all have these implicit biases. Along the road of our upbringing and even into adulthood we developed all kinds of bias. Most of these are hidden within our subconscious and we don’t even think about it. Our brains also automatically put things in groups or some order.

Even the best business leaders have some sort of bias.

In the D&I space we refer to this as unconscious bias. These implicit biases are what makes us choose to hang out with people who look and act like us. They also can make us feel a certain way about specific people, groups or social classes. This can certainly be detrimental to organizations. 

So how do I avoid it if I don’t even know if I’m doing it? Sounds like a tough task, right? There are certainly some tests that can assist you in uncovering your own unconscious bias such as an Implicit Association Test (IAT).

Also visualizing a particular situation can help. Research has shown that if you visualize a situation before you actually experience it you can potentially remove some bias.

Surround yourself with positive images as it relates to people you might have stereotypical thoughts about. The more we expose ourselves to ideas, images and words that challenge negative stereotypes, the less discriminatory we will be.

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Topics: Diversity and Inclusion