None of us like to think of ourselves as prone to bias — subconscious or conscious judging others based on any number of stereotypes we have internalized.
Nevertheless, it is important for a fair, healthy, and functioning society (and workplace) for us to think about the way that we think about others. While race and sex tend to be the best-known types of biases, bias can be based on personal appearance, age, religion, and many other factors.
It’s important to note that bias does not equate to moral failure. We all have unconscious biases. This stems in part from the human need to sort things into different mental boxes. This organization is not in itself intrinsically good or bad, but it can lead to us unfairly associating certain traits with certain people based off stereotypes or ideas by which we make judgments. Our unconscious biases may even run counter to the beliefs that we actually hold, but sometimes we act on them anyway (hence, “unconscious” bias).
The good news is that there are ways for us to overcome our implicit individual biases. To start, we must cultivate self-awareness – we must recognize that we have implicit biases and uncover what they are specifically (this test is a helpful place to start). Experts in the field note that we are more likely to act on our implicit biases when things are moving quickly, so taking a moment to slow down and think about why you feel a certain way about someone is crucial to unraveling bias. Click HERE to learn more about personal and systemic bias.