What is Unconscious Bias?
Unconscious bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions without us even realizing it. These biases can be based on factors such as race, gender, age, ability or other characteristics, and they can lead to a range of consequences for our communities.
Unconscious bias can prevent individuals from accessing career opportunities and support, and can limit their ability to fully participate in their communities. By implementing strategies to counteract bias, we can create a more inclusive society where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive.
At Hope Services, we are committed to this process, and we encourage other individuals and organizations to join us in this effort to create a more inclusive community. In this article, we’ll explore the critical steps involved in overcoming unconscious bias.
#1 Acknowledge That You Have Biases
First, we must recognize that everyone holds biases to some degree and that it’s normal to have them. Reflect on your thoughts and behaviors, and try to identify patterns in how you interact with different groups of people. Consider which groups you might have unconscious biases towards.
#2 Educate Yourself
Start by educating yourself on the concept of unconscious bias and the ways it can manifest in your personal and professional life. This can include reading articles or attending training sessions on the topic. Consider taking an Implicit Association Test (IAT) to better understand your own biases.
#3 Challenge Your Biases
Once you have identified your biases, challenge them. One way to challenge your biases is to seek out new experiences and perspectives to broaden your understand of cultures different from your own. This can include:
Reading books or articles from diverse authors.
Watching movies or TV shows that feature diverse characters and stories.
Attending cultural events or festivals that celebrate different cultures.
Traveling to different parts of the world or within your own country to learn about different cultures and ways of life.
Volunteering or working with organizations that serve diverse communities.
#4 Engage in Honest Conversations
Engaging in honest conversations about unconscious bias requires creating a safe space for people to discuss their perspectives without fear of conflict. To create a safe space, individuals must be respectful and open-minded when communicating, and leaders should model open and honest communication by sharing their own experiences with unconscious bias.
#5 Diversify Your Network
Diversifying your network by connecting with individuals from diverse backgrounds can help broaden your perspective and challenge your assumptions. When we surround ourselves with people who are similar to us, we tend to reinforce our own biases and assumptions. Building relationships with people who are different from us can help us develop greater empathy and understanding, and promote personal growth. This can lead to a greater appreciation for diversity and a stronger commitment to creating a more inclusive world.
#6 Be Open to Feedback
Being open to feedback is an essential step in recognizing and overcoming unconscious bias. When someone gives you feedback about your biases, take the time to listen and consider how your words or actions might have impacted them. Ask questions to better understand their perspective and what you can do to address the issue. Being open to feedback can help us learn from our mistakes, become more aware of our biases, and progress toward a more inclusive and empathetic society.
Unconscious bias is a complex and pervasive issue that affects individuals and communities in a multitude of ways. Addressing it within ourselves individually is an essential step towards promoting more diverse and inclusive workplaces and communities.
By educating ourselves, examining our own biases, and implementing strategies to counteract bias, we can create a workplace that values diversity and fosters inclusivity. Join us in confronting unconscious bias by actively practicing the six steps discussed here, and watch as the example you set inspires others to do the same.