Unconscious bias is increasingly in the news lately. Whether it’s the arrest of two innocent young black men for “trespassing” at a Philadelphia Starbucks or police being called on a black Yale graduate student seen napping in a common room, the nation’s attention has recently and frequently been turned toward the ways we often judge each other based simply on appearance, whether we realize it or not.
The “whether we realize it or not” part is precisely why unconscious bias is so difficult to tackle. Most of us aren’t blatantly and consciously bigoted. We’d recoil at the very notion. But at some level, beneath our own awareness, we all have some biases. And if we can’t identify them, how can we eliminate them?
Unconscious Bias in the Workplace
The problem isn’t limited to unwarranted police calls. Businesses across the country struggle with the impacts of unconscious bias on an ongoing basis. Starbucks is just one recent example, but they’re certainly not alone. Many companies are likely missing out on top talent because of unconscious bias among their HR staff or hiring managers.
That’s always unfortunate but in an era marked with the lowest unemployment numbers in several years companies simply can’t afford to risk any negative impacts on the ability to attract and retain top talent.
Tackling Bias in the Workplace
In an effort to tackle unconscious bias in the workforce, CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion recently announced it will launch a nationwide educational tour to help the current and future workforce recognize and minimize their unconscious bias; they announced this move in a recent news release which said, in part: “Launching in the fall of 2018, CEO Action’s Check Your Blind Spots mobile tour will make 100 stops across the country delivering interactive sessions, educational materials and creating space for participants to reflect on real-world experiences and how unconscious biases can impact business.”
Unconscious bias can have negative societal problems and raises important moral concerns. But it also has very practical consequences for businesses. Efforts by groups like CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion seek to help businesses around the country address the problem.
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