Bias is defined as a prejudice in favor of — or against — a thing, person or group.

The tough thing about unconscious bias is that we don’t know we’re doing it. And it’s often counter to our conscious beliefs.

This bias happens because our brain is taking a short cut. When it comes to people or groups, to save time, we put them into categories. Then we create social stereotypes to explain them: without noticing we’re doing that.

We mostly associate bias with matters of race. But it can also be based on age, gender, gender identity, physical abilities, religion, sexual orientation, weight, and pretty much any other characteristic you can name. 

This short video explains that unconscious bias started out as a way to build identify and connection when we lived in ancient tribes. But “us and them” in the workplace can lead to bad decisions, bad feelings and bad performance.

We’ll never be free of unconscious bias: it’s just how our brains work. But we can be more mindful about the choices we make on how we treat people: ensuring these are fair and equitable. Here are three questions you may ask to start your personal inquiry.

Need to know what else your brain is doing to hamstring your success at work? Let’s talk!