Unconscious Bias Toolkit

Unconscious Bias Toolkit

What is Unconscious Bias?

Unconscious (or implicit) bias is a term that describes the associations we hold, outside our conscious awareness and control. Unconscious bias affects everyone. Unconscious bias is triggered by our brain automatically making quick judgments and assessments.

The tendency of us as humans is to act in ways that are prompted by a range of assumptions and biases that we are not aware of. This can include decisions or actions that we are not consciously aware of, as well as hidden influences on decisions and actions that we believe are rational and based on objective unbiased evidence and experience.

What is an Example of Unconscious Bias?

An example of this bias during hiring is if the hiring panel favors male candidates over female candidates even though they have similar skills and job experience. Another well-known example is the gender pay gap.

What Influences Unconscious Bias?

Unconscious bias is triggered by our brain automatically making quick judgments and assessments. They are influenced by our background, personal experiences, societal stereotypes and cultural context.

What is Unconscious Bias at Work?

Unconscious bias can be present in organisations and groups as well as influencing the behaviours and decisions made by individuals.

Unconscious or implicit bias refers to the associations that are made between different qualities and social categories such as race, gender or disability and are judgements that are made without conscious awareness.

These automatic preferences or stereotypes are a major contributor to a lack of workplace diversity.

How Do You Deal with Unconscious Bias?

  • Accept that we all have unconscious biases
  • Make considered decisions
  • Monitor your behaviour
  • Pay attention to bias related to protected characteristics
  • Widen your social circle
  • Set ground rules for behaviour
  • Avoid making assumptions or relying on gut instinct

What are the Risks Associated with Unconscious Bias?

  • When judgements and decisions are influenced by unconscious bias we are, in effect, using an incomplete and inaccurate evidence base. This will lead to poor decisions.
  • Unconscious bias (particularly when linked to gender, ethnicity, disability or some other characteristic) has unfair and negative consequences for the subjects of this bias. This includes unfair treatment and poorer outcomes (e.g. in health, education and employment).
  • Unconscious bias can result in microagressions and discrimination.

What Can You Do About It?

The most important thing you can do is recognise that unconscious bias is likely to be influencing your actions, behaviours and decisions – as individuals and in groups and organisations.

Take time to explore the material provided on this site, reflect on your decision making (conscious and unconscious) and consider the steps you can take to minimise the consequences of unconscious bias in different situations and contexts.

One of the most important things we can do is avoid making rushed or instinctive decisions (e.g. around recruitment or assessing others). Think carefully about what could be used to support objective judgements and decisions and avoid making decisions likely to be influenced by unconscious bias (e.g. recruitment) when tired or stressed.

The Diverse Educators’ Unconscious Bias Toolkit

We are collating a growing bank of resources to help you identify and address unconscious bias in yourself, your team and in your workplace. Here are some questions to reflect on:
  • Where do biases come from?
  • What has formed my implicit biases?
  • Which issues do I not care about as much?
  • Do I interact with people that have different lived experiences than me?
  • Do I understand intersectionality?
  • Do I understand the different types of bias?
  • What are some common types of unconscious bias?
  • What is the connection between unconscious bias and microaggressions?
  • What privileges do I have that others do not?
  • What kind of workplace decisions can be affected by unconscious bias?

Articles

Asana - 19 Unconscious Bias Examples to Overcome and Help Promote Inclusivity

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BBC - The Complicated Battle Over Unconscious Bias

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Catalyst - Interrupt Unconscious Bias

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Easy Llama - Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

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Pearn Kandola - What Exactly is Unconscious Bias?

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The Guardian - Unconscious Bias: What is it and How Can it be Eliminated?

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Blogs

Essex Gov - How Can We Tackle Unconscious Bias?

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Frazer Jones - Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

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Greenhouse - How Unconscious Bias Affects Employee Experience

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LSE - Is Unconscious Bias Training Still Worthwhile?

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The SHRM Blog - Unconscious Bias

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Skill Cast - How to Reduce Unconscious Bias at Work

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Podcasts

Between Us: Stories of Unconscious Bias

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Breaking Glass Forums

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Parity Podcast

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Reachin’

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reWorked: The Diversity and Inclusion Podcast

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Unconscious Bias School Project

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Resources

Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research, University of Sussex

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Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion

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EW Group

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LeanIn

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Office of Diversity and Outreach, UCSF

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Project Implicit, Harvard University

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re:Work

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The University of Edinburgh

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University of Bristol

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TED Talks

Janet Stovall: How to Get Serious About Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

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Jennefer Witter: How Prejudiced Are You?

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Melinda Epler: 3 Ways to Be a Better Ally in the Workplace

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Mellody Hobson: Color Blind or Color Brave?

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Valerie Alexander: How to Outsmart Your Own Unconscious Bias

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Verna Myers: How to Overcome Our Biases

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Videos

16 Unconscious Bias Examples and How to Avoid Them

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How to Check Your Unconscious Bias

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Unconscious Bias at Work: Making the Unconscious Conscious

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Understanding Unconscious Bias

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What is Unconscious Bias?

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