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What is unconscious bias?

Updated: May 11, 2021

With unconscious bias being a buzz word today, a lot of people are left asking what is unconscious bias and how do I define it? The basic definition of unconscious bias is a prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another usually in a way that’s considered to be unfair. Biases may be held by you as an individual or by a group and affect the way you view someone or something.

There are types of biases. There is conscious bias (explicit bias) and unconscious bias (implicit bias). Unconscious biases are biases that you have outside your conscious understanding so you may not even know they are happening, and unconscious biases are much more prevalent than conscious biases.

Unconscious beliefs stem from one's tendency to organize the world based on their upbringing and beliefs. This in turn influence one’s opinions about various social and identity groups. We all have these beliefs therefore we all have biases. Biases are essentially a part of being human and are designed from our lifetime of exposures to similar patterns, over and over again. When we feel uncomfortable, we tend to fill in the gaps with our own basic understandings; which is where our unconscious biases come in.

How can you overcome unconscious bias in the workplace? It is best to understand everyone has unconscious bias and communicate about it. A lot of trainings are offered on unconscious bias in the workplace and it is important to make the decision which program is the best fit for your organization. Whatever you choose, unconscious bias training is one of the positive steps your organization can make to combat hidden biases and reduce the negative affect it can leave on your organization. Unconscious bias trainings also have the potential to transform your workplace and impact your organizations diversity and inclusion efforts, while improving the culture of your company and your bottom line.

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.


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