“There are only two ways to be quite unprejudiced and impartial. One is to be completely ignorant. The other is to be completely indifferent. Bias and prejudice are attitudes to be kept in hand. Not attitudes to be avoided.” — Charles Curtis
Implicit biases (also known as unconscious biases) are unconscious attitudes and stereotypes that affect human behavior and influence our reactions to situations, people and things. Biases are preferences and by nature, we consciously or unconsciously tend to favor people who are like us and make assumptive judgments about those who are perceived as ‘different’. Whether we like it or not, we tend to form opinions about people without being aware of it. For instance, we may have biases relating to gender, age, race or physical appearance.
When we want to create inclusive and diverse workplaces, we need to understand those biases first. With this understanding we can put strategies in place to reduce the impact of unwanted bias.
Organizations are learning that diversity and inclusion in the workplace adds significant financial value to their bottom line and helps them gain competitive advantages. Movements like #MeToo, #GeorgeFloyd and many other killings of unarmed black men and global protests against systemic racism are also raising awareness on the prevalence of negative biases while underscoring the importance of mitigating them. Individuals and organizations can no longer afford to ignore the repercussions of implicit bias.