What are your biases and have you talked about them lately? Researchers, consultants, educators, managers, and students have generated productive conversations about unconscious bias around the world. Our attitudes and stereotypes affect our behavior, decisions, and thoughts. We all have these biases and research has allowed us to speak more freely about them and ways they have developed consciously and unconsciously over time.
Bias is not limited to race but spans across gender, age, and religion to name a few.
There are many ways that we can dissect and combat unconscious bias. Bias is not going away, but we can be more mindful by taking a pause and being proactive. The following are three powerful ways for you to challenge your own unconscious bias:
Believe and acknowledge that bias is real.
Believing that unconscious and conscious bias exists is the first step. You are influenced by that bias and use it to make decisions about others every day. For example, it influences the hiring decisions you make. It also determines how you interact with people based on who you think they are.
Start with you.
Self-awareness is essential in all aspects of your life. It helps you determine what career you select, who your friends are and what type of lifestyle you want to live. Question and analyze your assumptions by reflecting on their roots. Ask yourself where these biases came from. You may find that they are based on distorted negative perceptions and stereotypes.
Change the narrative.
Change the story and assumptions you have created. Engage with someone who is a member of a different demographic group than you. Participate in various learning and engagement opportunities that expand your thinking and worldview. Take a risk and do something outside of your comfort zone.
There are advantages and privileges that some have that are invisible and go unacknowledged but they exist. They are based solely on group membership. Be mindful of the fact that some of us are treated differently not because of any virtue of our own but just because we are a member of a certain racial or ethnic group. In society, we are conditioned to believe that any person who works hard should be able to attain the American dream but there are systematic advantages that serve as barriers.
Hold yourself accountable, analyze your thoughts, behaviors, and experiences continuously. Speaking out and questioning in ways that make sense for you at work, in school and other environments can help you to influence change, find common ground and connect with allies.