Speed Read

  • There are all sorts of hidden biases – unconscious biases – that can impact decision making about who is the best person for the job
  • These biases become a problem when subtle biases and stereotypes associated with different demographic groups lead us to overlook or unintentionally exclude some people and groups in the workplace
  • There are many practical actions leaders can take to  reduce  the potential for unconscious bias when recruiting  to ensure decision making is genuinely fair and objective

We know leaders mean well when they say they always hire the best person for the job. So it can be unsettling when they learn there are all sorts of hidden biases – unconscious biases – that can impact decision making. There’s extensive research from the fields of business psychology and neuroscience to show we’re all biased, even though we like to think we always apply logic and reason in our decision making. The reality is we all have biases so ingrained we hardly notice them.

A great example comes from the study by Yale University social psychologist, John Bargh, in which subjects primed with the concept of the “elderly” while doing a simple task later walked more slowly when leaving the experiment than subjects in the control group who read words that were not stereotypically related to the elderly.

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