Understanding Unconscious Bias: 5 Things to Know
How can we eliminate prejudices and biases? Here are five easily achievable ways from Business Strategist and DE&I Consultant Vanessa Belleau, Founder of High Fifteen.
Unconscious bias is the cold thought process we all have regarding decisions and judgments we make in our daily lives. Our brain works so that we make decisions without even realising what we’re doing.
We often have biases and prejudices that others don’t even realise. While most of us are perfectly aware that we hold unconscious biases and prejudices, using them makes it difficult, sometimes even impossible, to live a life free of them.
What's more, it isn’t good for business. Research from McKinsey reveals that over the past five years, the likelihood that diverse companies will out-earn their industry peers has grown.
So how can we eliminate these prejudices and biases? Here are five easily achievable ways from Business Strategist and DE&I Consultant Vanessa Belleau, Founder of High Fifteen.
Ask yourself why do you even want to have the conversation?
Challenging unconscious bias should be driven by a desire to create a more equitable society, and your genuine motivation will be reflected in your results.
Know the difference between Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging
Diversity is being invited to a party. Inclusion is being asked to dance and Belonging, according to Anita Sands, “Is a feeling and therefore a far more powerful force than any D&I strategy could ever be.
It’s a fundamental human need, a word that translates across any language or culture, and a feeling that every human is wired to want.
Practice radical honesty
There are over 150 biases to challenge, and you will inevitably feel discomfort as you unlearn your unconscious thoughts. Therefore, be radically honest about what you don’t know and ask experienced professionals for help. The stakes are too high for companies to take risks based on assumptions.
Our biases are learned over generations, and it will take time to overcome them. As you unlearn old ways of thinking, reflect on what you know NOW and then take the next step.
Forgive yourself for both past AND future mistakes. You’re not going to get it right every time.
Don’t make a public pledge too soon
As mentioned before, a lot of work is required when challenging unconscious bias.
Before you make pledges and announcements, make sure you’ve done the job and reflected on what you know and where the gaps in your knowledge still lie.
Only then can you integrate sustainable change directly into your business strategy.