What Is Implicit Bias? Do I Have It?
The answer is yes. We all have it.
Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. Also known as Unconscious Bias, these biases are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.
Biases influence our reactions and impressions and cause us to have both favorable and unfavorable assessments of people, places and situations. These associations develop over the course of a lifetime beginning at a very early age through exposure to direct and indirect messages. They can help us learn, protect ourselves and make decisions. But they can have a negative impact on us as well. Unconscious bias becomes an issue when we discriminate against people because of these influences, and this can have a big impact on people-related decisions at work.
Implicit Bias in the Workplace
Identifying how biases may negatively affect workers and the bottom line is pivotal in the development of workplace equality. Organizations can mitigate the effects of implicit bias, beginning with the employer's recruiting and hiring process and continuing through the employee's growth within the organization.
In this episode of Member Question of the Day: What Is Implicit Bias?, I sat down with Robyn Afrik, Director of Ottawa County's Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to learn more about the science behind biases and how unconscious actions and beliefs can be obstacles to building a diverse workforce. We also talked about the importance of Cultural Intelligence.
At the bottom of this page are resources you can use to asses yourself and your workplace culture, and information on how to be mindful and address the biases you uncover.
Additional Resources from Robyn Afrik and Ottawa County:
Talent2025 DEI & Employer Toolkit
Mixed Staffing and Recruiting offers a tool for businesses to check their bias
Cultural Intelligence Center (CQ)
Korn Ferry’s Conscious Inclusion E Learning
Michigan Department of Civil Rights Racial Equity Toolkit Framework