Some employees face blatant bias and blatant discrimination when it comes to employment decisions such as pay raises, promotions, or even decisions to hire someone. There is, however, a bias that employees face from an employer or supervisor and they don’t even know they’re doing it. This is called unconscious bias. Unconscious bias is acting discriminatorily toward an employee based on some characteristic (race, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity, pregnancy status, etc.), but the employer doesn’t realize that it’s happening. This is a difficult issue to solve, but there are ways of mitigating unconscious bias in the workplace. The employment discrimination lawyers at Ricotta and Marks fight hard for their clients to protect their employment rights from all types of bias.
How to Identify Unconscious Bias in Employment Decisions
Everyone has unconscious biases or believes in certain stereotypes. Unfortunately, it is human nature to have judgments against someone. Even though we all have these snap judgments when we meet people, most people hopefully don’t verbalize them nor act upon them, knowing that first impressions are usually wrong or misinformed. Unconscious bias with employment decisions occurs when an opinion about someone is formed only on an initial impression. When it comes to hiring questions or questions of pay scale or promotion, employers are best served by having a system of identifying and nullifying any unconscious biases that could be at play.
Unconscious bias can take many forms. Here are but a few examples:
- Affinity bias – Focusing on similar backgrounds, interests, or experiences, leading to a lack of diversity in the workforce.
- Gender bias – Only certain genders and do certain jobs. For example, women are less suited for a science-based field like engineering, computer science, or robotics.
- Age bias – Favoring only employees of a certain age.
- Confirmation bias – Tendency to search, interpret, and recall information in a way that aligns with our pre-existing values or opinions and make hiring decisions based upon that bias.
- Name bias – Favoring names that are similar to yours.
- Appearance bias – Choosing people that “look like” you or look a way that you consider “positive”.
- Similarity bias – Similar to Affinity Bias, this is favoring employees who share the same race, ethnicity, or culture, leading to a lack of diversity in the workforce.
- Educational bias – Favoring employees with similar educational backgrounds or who have graduated from distinguished higher education institutions. Again, this leads to a lack of diversity in the workforce.
The above is not an exhaustive list. A person’s biases can be based on many different things.
Why is Identifying Unconscious Bias in the Workplace Important
There are substantial and valid reasons to make sure a company’s employment decisions are not biased in certain ways. The most basic is that it’s unfair to judge people, especially if they are being judged based on something that they can’t control, like the color of their skin or where they grew up. There are also important economic reasons for companies to eliminate bias in hiring and employment decisions. The bottom line is that it’s good for business. There have been many studies on the economic effects that hiring biases can have on the success of a company. One recent study reported in the Harvard Business Review indicated that, by far, the best candidates seek out companies that are diverse in nature. These companies take an active role in eliminating biases in hiring practices to ensure a more diverse workforce.
The New York City employment discrimination attorneys at Ricotta and Marks are here to answer all of your employment-related questions. Help is only a phone call away.