The Impact of Unconscious Bias in The Workplace

Even when there are good intentions, as well as the need to be fair, unconscious bias still manifests in different ways when in the workplace. Nepotism and even affinity bias plague hiring practices, and this makes micro-aggressive behaviors and other inequities thrive. This means that some groups are marginalized, making them miss out on key opportunities to excel. This leaves out whole other groups without any sense of belonging or even respect. As a result, this is just one reason of the reasons that unconscious bias should be addressed and not flippantly ignored. 

What is Unconscious Bias?


1) The Definition of Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is a stereotype learnt about specific groups of people. Everyone carries biases that are developed because of our environmental socialization. This means that a lot of us pre-judge people just based on limited facts, and this usually leads to discrimination. When we are aware of the impact that this bias can have on the employees and the brand’s financial performance, we should commit to creating an inclusive culture, a place that everyone in the workplace can contribute and thrive.


What Are the Types of Unconscious Bias?


2) Different Kinds of Bias

There are different types of unconscious bias and one of the popular types is affinity bias. This is when we gravitate toward individuals that are identical to us in either gender, race, ethnicity, or even nationality. This is portrayed in “in-group” or “out-group” dynamics whenever we prefer to simply align ourselves with or just ignore specific groups of individuals. There’s also conformity bias which is also called peer pressure. This happens when individuals conform to groupthink, doing this even with the knowledge that these decisions go against their own principles and personal beliefs. In this case, they hold back their own opinion just to fit in.

What is Microaggression?

3) The Definition of Microaggression

This unconscious bias consists of subtle, not overly noticeable negative messages, attitudes or hidden insults frequently communicated to or about individuals belonging to marginalized groups, that often go unnoticed even by the communicator. The “halo effect” is another bias that occurs when people unconsciously judge a person as being completely competent or completely incompetent simply based on first impression leaving no actual middle ground in this assumption.

What is the Business Impact of Unconscious Bias?


4) The Impact of Bias in the Workplace

Alicia Sullivan, a human right, and inclusion specialist reiterated that historically, women, minorities, as well as other marginalized groups have faced the most bias both conscious and unconscious. Unconscious bias negatively affects their career prospects, and they tend to be kept at lower levels, receive fewer promotions, and kept invisible enough to be unidentified or sponsored by leaders. Some of these people downsize their career aspirations and the workplace suffers via their sub-optimal contributions.

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