Bias in the Workplace is a Real Problem

Just because we think we are enlightened doesn’t mean we act as if we are. At this point, most people intellectually accept that women are just as capable as men and that skin color is not a predictor of work ethic!

Yet ... bias in the workplace still happens. And it happens despite people professing to not be biased!  Yes, this means you!

First some evidence:


Yes, this is all very discouraging but not at all surprising to anyone who has experienced this sort of bias first hand – which is a lot of people! The good news is – we aren’t imagining it. It really is happening.

The question is 
What are we going to do about it. The first thing is to acknowledge we all have biases and that our biases cause us to unfairly judge people poorly, not on the basis of their skills, but on arbitrary identity markers, like skin color and gender presentation and hair style and whatever.

Unconscious bias is an automatic thing. It’s your brain taking shortcuts and sizing someone up based on first impressions. The problem is, we all, every single one of us, do this poorly. We make mistakes. Our first impression is wrong. Knowing that your first impression may be wrong, allows you to dig deeper to get a 2nd and/or 3rd impression.

By understanding you have biases, you can compensate for those biases. This takes a conscious decision to do, but it’s worth the effort. Because not only are you short changing quality workers and perpetuating stereotypes and discrimination, you are short changing your company when you do this because instead of getting quality people, you get people you think would be good, but who are objectively not.

The act of consciously choosing to look past your implicit biases is called affirmative action. Steps you can take to work around and compensate for your biases so that your biases don’t negatively affect you, others and society as a whole.

Affirmative action isn’t simply a legislative attempt to control businesses. It’s an opportunity for business to be better by putting in place legal requirements to not let your biases influence your hiring and promotion decisions! Embrace it, don’t fight it.

Now, if you would like to learn more about hidden, unconscious or implicit biases, take my free course at: - and yes, you can use this for self study credit.

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