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Prejudice: How do they affect your workplace?

Whether or not you are aware of this, unconscious prejudice is part of your thinking. It does not matter whether you are "right", you are feeding preferences or judgments about gender, age, height, skin color, marital status, parental status, ability or handicap, accent, weight. .

For the most part, this is due to the environment in which we all grew up and continue to function, with our families, our education and our experiences that led us to form particular opinions.

In itself, it's not so surprising: it's a feature that allows us to quickly categorize and filter the people we come into contact with – an evolving skill that we've learned to develop to minimize the risk of danger. Fortunately, we can challenge our own prejudices with reason and logic to ensure that we do not act in a discriminatory or prejudicial way. But, all too often, we forget to do it. This has particularly damaging consequences – even in the workplace.

There are several types of prejudices you may observe in your workplace, including:

  • Affinity bias
  • halo effect
  • perception bias
  • confirmation bias
  • group thinking

Each type of bias is a little different, but the result is the same: we end up giving some people an advantage or disadvantage because of the lightning judgment we've made about them. So what is the impact of these types of unconscious bias?

Well, recruitment is perhaps one of the biggest problems in a workplace that attacks unconscious bias. Those who click through HR systems and make hiring decisions will undoubtedly make a split judgment about the candidates they sort (even if they believe that they make no unconscious judgment of the all), and will continue to be unconsciously guided as they become more familiar with the candidates through face-to-face interviews.

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For example, one type of bias that you might see appearing in the recruitment process is the affinity bias. This is a common problem in the context of recruitment, and boils down to the fact that you are more likely to hire someone with whom you feel an affinity.

You might be more likely to hire someone who has attended the same university or who has grown up in the same city as you. You are at least more likely to act more kindly towards these people: if they seem nervous, you could offer more words of encouragement or try to appease them in a way that you do not. 39 would not have if you had no affinity with this candidate.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Without realizing that you are prejudiced, you might not consider some candidates because of an experience or perception that you are not aware of. Obviously, biased decisions can have a serious impact on your company's hiring decisions.

Unconscious bias also has a significant impact on performance and development reviews. For example, those responsible for conducting performance and development studies may experience confirmation bias. This happens when you have already judged someone, perhaps based on historical experience or the reaction of other colleagues, inciting you unconsciously to seek evidence to back it up. your opinion about a person.

The reason is that we are wired to want to believe that we are right – which, as you can imagine, could risk marking a worthy candidate with an unfairly low score, or also, scoring a candidate not deserving with a very high score.

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Of course, unconscious bias infiltrates into many more elements of a workplace, including the issue of wage increases and promotions. So what can be done about unconscious prejudices?

The first thing to do is to offer awareness training. You will need everyone to accept that they have prejudices, whether they realize it or not, which begins by drawing their attention to their own biases by using questionnaires that have been designed to identify them.

You will then equip your team with the tools they need to recognize and challenge their prejudices, and provide them with training to help them stay aware of their prejudices on an ongoing basis.

Another thing you can do to prevent bias decisions from affecting your workplace is to slow down the processes to which you have become accustomed. Unconscious biases occur at the speed of lightning, helping to slow things down by changing processes in your workplace. For example, you can ensure that CV selection and interview formats are designed to give peers an opportunity to report when an unconscious bias can infiltrate.

Are you aware of your unconscious bias? It's time to better know your own preconceived ideas.