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How Overcoming Unconscious Bias Leads to Diversity of Thought

Updated: May 14




You may not realize it but there is a way of thinking that is preventing you from something important; diversity of thought. Diversity of thought is what accelerates growth in a company and invigorates innovation. In the world of business, we have a lot of talk about diversity. We talk about diversity of skin color, diversity of gender, diversity of sexual orientation, diversity of marital status, and diversity of political affiliation. This is a good thing, as diversity leads to a greater variety of perspectives.


These perspectives lead to new ways of doing business, which leads to innovation. However, diversity is about more than just gender, race, or sexual orientation. It means having a variety of perspectives, opinions, and ideas. Having a diverse workforce in thought not only ensures that you have people to serve all of your customers, it also leads to better problem solving and better innovation.


So, what is diversity of thought?


Diversity of thought is the idea that people from different backgrounds, who are grouped together look, think, or identify differently to bring varying, diverse viewpoints to the table. Diversity of thought is the result of a variety of viewpoints. It is often defined as diversity of opinions and perspectives. This diverse group of people are especially important in the workplace, where it can increase the efficiency of teams and improve the quality of the final product.


Many organizations have adopted an environment of diversity in the workplace as part of their corporate culture but do not address the issue of diversity of thought. Diversity of thought is just as important, because it is meant to foster a positive, welcoming environment that encourages respectful debate and disagreement. This in turn builds a consensus, that ultimately differentiates a company from its competitors.


What is that “THING” preventing you or your organization from having diversity of thought?


Unconscious Bias is the fact that we all have biases we aren’t aware of, and that this can affect our decisions without us even realizing it. Unconscious biases can be social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. It can also be a decision we have made early on about people, because they don’t align with our beliefs or how we see the world.


It is inevitable that we have beliefs that create unconscious biases. These are formed as early as our childhood and they can even be influenced by just our preferences from something over another. Even if we know that our preferences are shaped by our experience, it is hard to take steps to fight unconscious bias and can feel like a burden.


As a result, many people try to avoid making decisions at all. But the alternative is worse, making the wrong decision in who you hire or how you treat an individual because of bias can prohibit you from having diversity of thought within your organization. Research has shown that diversity of thought is a positive force, leading to better decision making, innovation, and creativity and these biases are what gets in the way of that.



So, how do you create a culture of diversity?


As mentioned, unconscious bias is the secret killer of workplace diversity of thought. It’s a common misconception that the only bias that affects hiring decisions is conscious bias, where employers consciously dismiss candidates based on their race, age, gender, sexual orientation or other physical attributes.


However, it’s the unconscious bias that often has the greatest impact on your hiring decisions or how you treat an individual in the workplace. Most people don't even realize that unconscious bias is present when hiring. Working to overcome those biases is the secret to creating a diverse culture in the long run.


When we work with our clients and help them visualize their ideal candidate, we see biases. Knowing full well that our client doesn't realize bias is present. We ask questions to get the consideration back on track and most of the time our client aligns their thinking differently, without them knowing unconscious bias came into the process. This creates a new way of thinking that is then carried over to the hiring process and beyond.


Diversity of thought and recruitment


As companies focus on diversity and more is in the press about equality, you may have realized that in general we tend to hire people like us, people who look like us, speak like us, and act like us. This is innately due in part to our unconscious biases. This is where recruitment can help you in diversifying your organization. Hiring an outside source such as a recruiter, can help you discover those biases or even overcome them when hiring a candidate that is going to drive your organization towards innovation through diversity of thought.




At TLR Search, we see 4 out of 5 well intentioned individuals show unconscious bias in the hiring process. As a partner to the hiring process, we make sure all candidates are considered without bias. Ultimately, our clients hire candidates that are engaged with a tenure of 5-plus years at the company. These team members create their own unique value while helping the company grow and strengthen the culture.

We also enjoy conducting workshops to help uncover unconscious bias in a safe setting. Seeing the aha moments our attendees have is amazing. They learn how to strengthen relationships with their coworkers, their managers, and their clients.

TLR Search helps energy and chemical company hiring managers gain talent market share by bringing strong diverse talent to their door, while inspiring potential new team members to picture their future possibilities; especially with hard to fill positions. We are people experts with a specialization in energy and chemicals. We’re a woman-owned recruitment firm that partners with clients to assist them in placing decision-makers at executive levels, supervisors in functional management positions, and experienced professionals in technical roles.