Surfacing unconscious bias

Prejudice can lead to unequal outcomes, underutilized talent and marginalized contributions
By Rumeet Billan
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/30/2017
Unconscious Bias
Credit: Jirsak (Shutterstock)

People see the world through the lens of their experiences, biases and various identity factors. As a result, the assumptions they hold shape the decisions they make — but these decisions may be creating unequal outcomes for employees.

Unconscious bias refers to a bias we are unaware of. It happens automatically and is outside of our control. These biases, which for the most part are invisible, are triggered by the brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations.

Whether the biases are unconscious, implicit or explicit, they help people make sense of the world as they seek to understand it. Further, they guide our day-to-day decisions and are most prevalent when people are put under pressure because they rely on shortcuts in the brain to help them fill in the gaps.