Unconscious Bias

Through the Looking Glass

The notion of being racist is considered offensive to many as it conjures up an image of hate. However, consideration is hardly given to seemingly innocent perceptions that reflect Unconscious Bias and perpetuates Systemic Racism. In truth, some form of prejudice and unconscious bias is prevalent in all humanity, but it is only in recognizing and admitting this, intentionally being self-aware, and challenging your actions that you can begin the transformation needed to confront systemic racism in employment.

How do you then begin the journey to self-awareness and confronting your biases? Anne Kloopman puts forward some of the following questions to help spot your bias.

  • Do you feel uncomfortable when you are surrounded by certain people or groups?
  • Why did you choose to sit next to that person?
  • Why did you decide to hire this candidate?
  • Who are the people you spend most of your time with?
  • Who are the people you ask for advice?
  • Do you exclude certain people from discussions?
  • Whose ideas do you adopt or dismiss during meetings?

If in answering these questions, your natural inclination is to gravitate towards people that belong to your racial group or similar cultural background even when there are people from other groups to turn to, chances are that there is unconscious bias at play, which inevitably exposes your racialized colleagues to discrimination in the work-related actions you take and decisions you make. According to Howard J. Ross “while this type of bias may seem less dangerous in the workplace…, it still leads to racial injustice.”

Please read the following articles to learn more: How to challenge Your Unconscious Bias: 6 Tips ; 16 Unconscious Bias Examples and How to Avoid Them in the Workplace

Explanation of Terms

Unconscious Bias: “refers to the unconscious assumptions, beliefs, attitudes and stereotypes that human brains have about different groups. These learned mental short-cuts affect how we perceive and respond to people.”

Systemic Racism: “a form of racism that is embedded in the laws and regulations of a society or an organization. It manifests as discrimination in areas such as criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, education, and political representation.”

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