Implicit bias: Confronting the monster you don’t even know is there

Posted On August 14, 2018

When we last spoke with Melanie Miller, she joined us for an enlightening discussion about sexual harassment and how to avoid fostering a hostile work environment.  In this episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston,” Miller turns her sharp eye to the problem of implicit bias and its effects on hiring practices.

The concept of implicit bias is the idea that we all have unconscious beliefs about people who are different than us, regardless of how open-minded we believe we are. “I believe to be human is to be biased,” Miller says.

Even if we aren’t consciously aware of them, these beliefs can affect how we react to people in everyday life, in the workplace or in an interview. Do your implicit biases affect how you view a prospective employee before they even say a word?

This isn’t just about big differences like race, gender or nationality. Things like hair color, height, introversion, accent and tattoos also may leave impressions with us that lead us to subconscious inferences about people that may have nothing to do with who they really are or what type of employee they might be.

Going beyond simple appearances, Miller discusses other types of biases like “halo” bias, “horned” bias and perhaps the most prevalent form in the workplace today – “like me” bias. This occurs when business owners or managers see a little bit of themselves in a job applicant and automatically begin thinking highly of the prospective employee.

Everyone is ultimately responsible for their own success, but companies owe it to themselves to confront these biases in order to foster an inclusive culture – and not just for good PR. Organizations with an inclusive culture are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, Miller says, and six times as likely to anticipate and proactively respond to change.

So how do we address implicit biases? The first step is recognizing you have them. Join us to hear Miller’s recommendations on how to take the next one.

Categories: Podcast, Workplace