While the concept of unconscious bias has been around for decades, its impact remains. By definition, we are unaware of our unconscious biases, but by making a conscious effort to recognise them we can begin to overcome them.

Unconscious biases are learned stereotypes that are automatic, unintentional, deeply ingrained, universal, and able to influence behaviour – in the workplace, unconscious bias is reflected in split-second decisions or assumptions based on someone’s gender, ethnicity, religion or sexuality.  So how can we become aware of our own ‘blindspots’ and consciously begin to overcome them?

  1. Keep engaging in this type of conversation. “Opting out of a conversation because it makes you uncomfortable is the definition of privilege.” Brené Brown.
  2. Learn more about what kind of Biases exist and how we can understand the issues better in order to overcome them: http://www.lookdifferent.org/common-kinds-of-bias
  3. Be kind to yourself about any bad feelings that come from recognising you have unconscious biases. We all have unconscious biases, and it takes courage to admit it and take steps to address them.
  4. Be mindful and respectful that it takes emotional labour to be the person on the other side of the conversation. Don’t assume someone from a group you want to learn more about is ready, willing and able to answer all of your questions for free.
  5. On that note, one way to start to learn more about different people is to engage with material that’s designed for this. Read books like White Fragility or Between the World and Me or So You Want To Talk About Race. Follow people from different groups on Twitter. Read different publications, watch different movies, listen to different voices. You may also like to take an Unconscious Bias https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html to identify your own potential blindspot.

Global Women’s ‘Unconscious Bias Campaign’ was recently recognised at the prestigious D&AD Awards.  Here are some sharable links to the advertisements, and to the posters which highlight some of the most common biases.

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