What is “Unconscious Bias”?
We all know that the unconscious mind is a powerful and intrinsic force in helping to shape our overall behavior in our everyday lives. Similarly, organizations and thought leaders are beginning to appreciate and harness this deeper understanding of how our cultures help shape the automatic decisions that we make every moment of our lives and the profound impact that this phenomenon has on our personal and professional lives.
So How Does This Affect Me?
Every human being gets triggered- either positively or negatively- when we are exposed to different kinds of people. The concept of “unconscious bias” impacts individuals and organizations at virtually every level of organizational life; including hiring, performance management, succession planning, and strategic decisions in organizations. Cutting-edge recent studies and research within the cognitive sciences point us to the conclusion that most of these decisions are not made by bad people with bad attitudes; but rather by well-intended people who have no idea about the internal unconscious processes that may be affecting their decision-making every day.
What Can I Do?
Cook Ross Inc. combines fundamental psychological approaches like stereotyping threat, unintentional blindness, and selective attention along with more classical diversity approaches which emphasize a focus on micro-advantages and micro-inequities. Our fundamental belief at Cook Ross is that while egregious displays of discriminatory behavior must be clearly addressed, the much larger organizational problem is that vast numbers of unconscious decisions are made by people who do not even realize that there is “unconscious bias” in their behavior.
The core objectives in our work on “unconscious bias” are to get participants to do the following:
- Examine their own background and identities, so that they can interact more authentically with co-workers, customers and the community.
- Explore how the brain functions, so that they can recognize unconscious bias as a natural function of the human mind.
- Expose patterns of unconscious bias so that they can navigate their impact on their decision-making processes.
- Confront their own internal biases so that they can practice conscious awareness in their lives.
- Identify organizational leverage points so that they can mitigate the impact of unconscious bias in interactions, processes and structures.
- Practice strategies and tools so that they can create transformational systemic change in their organization.
To learn more about our trainings and thought leadership in Unconscious Bias, see below.
Presentation Sample by Howard Ross, Chief Learning Officer
Incorporating anecdotes from today’s headlines alongside case studies from over 30 years as a nationally prominent diversity consultant, Ross help readers understand how unconscious bias impacts our day-to-day lives and particularly our daily work lives. And, he answers the question: “Is there anything we can do about it?” by providing examples of behaviors that the reader can engage in to disengage the impact of their own biases. With an added appendix that includes lessons for handling conflict and bias in the workplace, this book offers an invaluable resource for a broad audience, from individuals seeking to understand and confront their own biases to human resource professionals and business leaders determined to create more bias-conscious organizations in the belief that productivity, personal happiness, and social growth are possible if we first understand the widespread and powerful nature of the biases we don’t realize we have.