Bias occurs when groups of people act the same way, but are treated differently.

Bias occurs when groups of people act the same way, but are treated differently. This is often unconscious bias.

The most rigorous experiments (e.g. goo.gl/HP5FAs) have been carried out to see why most women hit a glass ceiling in business. If you are not a woman, you may see a partner, daughter, mentee etc. trying to “lean in.” She may try to be “better” to succeed, but you will often see her fail to compete successfully against male colleagues.

She is probably doing everything her male counterparts do, and working hard and networking well.  She is acting the same way as others who find outstanding success, but is being treated differently.

Other biases

Gender is, of course, not the only source of unconscious bias. Generation, race, accent, height, weight, and even dress style create biases. As we get to know people better, we develop unconscious biases based on their gender orientation, family structure, politics, work or educational history.

Or their personalities or attitudes to hobbies, sports or animals. Etc…

You have unconscious biases, and are yourself the object of many biases. These arise from each way that you are different from others, because differences promote unconscious bias.

Interrupting biases

If you want to interrupt bias (long term), methods need to be:

  • Based on metrics so that performance, resources etc can be objectively assessed.
  • Be iterative, so change is suited to small interventions that can be extended, or scaled up.
  • Able to change systems and processes, in long-lasting ways. This way, bias interruption becomes part of the structure of the basic business activities. It becomes sustainable even if new management has less of an interest in bias interruption.

Unconscious bias hurts everyone.

 

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