Making the unconscious conscious will help you make more objective decisions, facilitate an inclusive corporate culture, and create equal development opportunities.
Unconscious biases are the automatic, mental shortcuts used to process information and make decisions quickly. At any given moment individuals are flooded with millions of information, but can actually only consciously process 40 pieces of information. Cognitive filters allow the mind to unconsciously prioritise, generalise, and dismiss large volumes of data. These filters can be useful when making decisions with limited information, focus, or time, but can sometimes lead individuals astray and have unintended consequences in the workplace.
Unconscious bias can prevent individuals from making objective decisions. They can cause people to overlook great ideas, undermine individual potential, and create a less than ideal work experience for their colleagues. By understanding unconscious bias and overcoming it at critical moments, individuals can make better decisions – from finding the best talent (no matter what their background) to acknowledging a great idea (no matter who it came from) – and build a workforce and workplace that supports and encourages diverse perspectives and contributions.
Combatting unconscious biases is hard, because their influence on our decisions in a given moment doesn’t feel wrong; it feels intuitively right. But in order to create a workplace that supports and encourages diverse perspectives, talents, and ideas, you need to give people the platform and tools to begin highlighting and combatting their biases.
External research shows that awareness of unconscious bias can lead to reversals in biased outcomes. The first step towards combatting unconscious bias is, therefore, education.