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Biases in the Workplace

Biases in the Workplace
A bias is simply a prejudice or inclination for or against a group or person. There are conscious and unconscious biases. Biases are prevalent in all aspects of life, but are especially prominent in the workplace. Biases affect our perception, attitude, behaviours, and attention which in turn affects every decision we make. Workplace decisions such as hiring, promoting, and delegating tasks are all affected by biases, conscious or unconscious, and most times people do not even realize they are being biased. Some of the most common workplace biases are gender bias, affinity bias, and confirmation bias.

Gender Bias
Gender bias is most commonly the favouritism of men — usually white, heterosexual men. According to builtin.com, 42% of women experience gender discrimination at work, both men and women are twice as likely to hire a male candidate, and men are 30% more likely to obtain managerial roles.

Affinity Bias
People tend to gravitate towards those who are similar to themselves. In the workplace that could mean someone hiring or promoting a candidate who shares the same race or gender as them. This bias is especially detrimental to women and minorities as the person hiring or promoting is most likely a white male.

Confirmation Bias
Harvard Business School defines confirmation bias as the human tendency to search for, favor, and use information that confirms one’s pre-existing views on a certain topic. Confirmation bias in the workplace is very common as people do not generally seek out information to contradict their opinions, which negatively affects diversity, creativity, and decision making.

How can companies combat workplace biases?
Companies should first educate employees about workplace biases by implementing regular bias training, companies should collect & analyze employee demographic and compensation data and identify any discrepancies which may be due to biases in the processes. A simple way to combat all biases is to invest in tools that utilize automation or artificial intelligence to make unbiased decisions from documented true sources instead of personal relationships or opinions, then not only do you save time, but all decisions are made based on data and no biases come into play.

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