We all share the biological forces that sort people into groups and form our unconscious biases. They are rooted in our primitive brains and help us act quickly in the face of danger.
But how can we navigate these stereotypes so they don't follow us into the workplace and potentially impede our efforts to make thoughtful, rational decisions?
It may first be helpful to test your own biases. Harvard provides an excellent tool that asks about your beliefs and thoughts on a variety of topics. Think you know yourself? The results can be surprising! Take the test here.
Once you've taken the test - and hopefully learn a little bit about yourself! - you may feel more inclined to see just how much of an impact our biases can have. Michael Brainard, the CEO of Brainard Strategy, a management consulting firm that specializes in leadership development, explores how our unconscious biases can influence us all - even the most experienced, senior leadership. Read more here.
So can we overcome these stereotypes? Thaniya Keerepart, the Head of Mobil + Platforms at TED, believes we can. In a 2016 TED talk, Thaniya poses the question: Can we use design principles to change how we interact with each other? She addresses the principle of affordance, which is how one's primitive and subconscious reaction and perceptions can unknowingly influence behavior - for examples, why shorter people get interrupted or ignored in meetings more frequently. In addition to affordance, she offers 2 other design principles to help us become more inclusive. Watch her talk here.
Keep in mind that unconscious bias has a biological basis that exists within all of us - so you're not alone! But how do we mitigate the impacts of something that is so deeply ingrained in humanity? Understanding our own biases is the first step. Reflecting on how they impact our daily decisions is also important, as it will help us remain humble around our biases. If we can establish a stronger culture of awareness and humility, this may lead to more disciplined thought and understanding in the workplace