Unconscious bias can be defined as
a bias that happens automatically, outside of our control and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment, and personal experiences.
Whilst all human beings have unconscious biases, that’s not an excuse for inaction. Unconscious bias impacts
- Politics – we may vote for candidates based on their charm or similarity to us, rather than on their experience and political platform.
- Business – who are recruited and promoted, who gets the best projects, certain customers may receive better service than others, a poorly designed product may overlook an entire segment of the population.
- Society – the gender stereotyping of certain tasks (cooking vs DYI) and careers (nursing vs engineering), how we educate girls and boys.
There is no magic bullet, but this 8-minute video from Kristen Pressner is a good start. In this TED talk, Kristin shares her awakening to her own unknown biases and a practical technique to double-check ourselves.