What is unconscious bias?

Bias is defined as “a strong inclination of the mind or a preconceived opinion about something or someone, either favourably or unfavourably.”

Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about different groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. This can apply to race, diability, gender, and more.

According to Forbes the human brain unconsciously processes 11 million pieces of information per second compared to just 40 processed consciously.

Unconscious bias is far more common than conscious prejudice and often goes against their conscious values. Some scenarios can activate unconscious attitudes and beliefs.

At Wilford Scholes we have developed an assessment so organisations can identify the unconscious biases of their people.

Why is it important as a business leader to understand unconscious bias?

Its impacts our recruitment decisions, employee development, impairing diversity and retention rates. As well as promoting a disconnected and sometimes toxic culture. Therefore, it is vital for organisations to address the issue in order to develop and maintain an inclusive workforce.

One study by Raconteur revealed that on average 24 per% of job applicants of white British origin received a positive response from employers, compared with only 15% of ethnic minority applicants with identical CV’s and cover letters.

In some more severe cases, strong preferential bias of any kind can lead to workplace bullying, unlawful harassment or discrimination. This puts businesses at high risk of reputational damage and any associated financial costs as issues develop.

Research shows that unconscious bias is prevalent in the modern workplace — in recruitment, retention, performance management, promotion, client relations, and the allocation of work assignments.

How unconscious bias affects individuals in the workplace, and strategies and tactics for overcoming this problem is the responsibility of senior leadership.

To find out how we at Wilford Scholes can support your leadership team with unconscious bias, email contact@wilfordscholes.com.

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