Essay on Harmful Biases: What are They

Man in glasses looking straight

Tactics to Getting Rid of Bias in Your Decisions

When we think of biases, we mistakenly believe that negative actions are taken on purpose while many of them are done unconsciously (implicit biases). Biases can affect our behavior and decisions without realizing it and they are often based on incorrect, incomplete or just wrong information.

Biases have a direct and significant impact at work: especially dangerous they are for HRs, promoters, and managers.

Best strategies to interrupt biases

Having an unconscious bias doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you: it just means you are a human, not a bad person. However, if you are not comfortable with it and want to get rid of that, awareness is the first step. Here are the 11 most common types of unconscious biases and the best strategies to use making sure you are not guided by them when making decisions at the workplace.

  1. Affinity. This bias appeals to our tendency to like those people who are similar to ourselves. It means that you can hire and promote someone who shares your age or interests but doesn’t have the necessary skills. Include 2+ people from other racial or ethnic groups and when choosing, make sure that the candidate is a really good fit for this position;
  2. Ageism. A very common bias that means discriminating against someone based on their age. It affects more women than men and to avoid this try to remove the date of birth and work experience dates from CVs. You have to understand that older employees may bring more value due to their experience than young people;
  3. Attribution. Some people consider women less valuable and competent than men which leads to underestimating their skills and overreacting to their mistakes. Give your feedback to women focused on communication style and men based on business goals and technical skills to ensure the right results;
  4. Beauty. Judging people (usually women) by their looks is the beauty bias. More attractive people get the best conditions and are treated more favorably. Focus on their performance, not their appearance to avoid such situations;
  5. Confirmation. It refers to the tendency to support and believe the information we already heard about. Identify the blind spots and check facts before stating anything;
  6. Conformity. One of the most popular biases, it occurs when your opinion is influenced by other people (group thinking). Form your own opinion before you share it with coworkers;
  7. Contrast effect. This happens when you compare the work of one employee with another one and make conclusions based on the difference. In the hiring process, write down the reasons why you choose this very candidate and evaluate each one individually;
  8. Gender. Preferring men over women and vice versa to do the job is a gender bias. Use neutral job description not resonating with a specific gender. When it comes to promotion, concentrate on skills, not the gender of the person;
  9. Halo effect. This one is about putting someone above others or thinking of them more highly based on the information you heard. It also refers to perceiving a person negatively. Before you do that, ask yourself if it is formed by you or comes from some common stereotypes;
  10. Name. Judging a person by their name and background is also a well-known bias, so remove the names of candidates to ensure you are concentrated on their skills and experience and not their family;
  11. Weight. People who are larger or heavier than average often face weight biases. Just think how you would feel if people judge you based on that.

Now when you know what kinds of biases manipulate our minds, try to start putting these strategies into life to prevent them from interfering with your personal and work life.