Unconscious bias, or implicit bias, is built into our DNA—it is part of our human nature. It is automatic for humans to categorize individuals and groups to help us make sense of the world. Micro inequities and unconscious bias include mental shortcuts to categorize people we are unfamiliar with into specific groups. Often those groups are labeled “good” or “bad”.
The brain is hard-wired to create these groups and from an evolutionary standpoint, this hard-wiring helped us determine what was safe and what meant danger. Once assigned to the group, we attribute stereotypes that we associate with that group. Unconscious bias, implicit bias, is different from conscious bias (explicit bias) that most of us associate with overt prejudice such as racism, sexism and other forms of intolerance.
We all experience some degree of micro inequities and unconscious bias—yes, even those of us that are well-intentioned. Unconscious bias includes the subtle associations we make towards groups of people. Stereotypes, which often operate unconsciously, are often the root of our bias.
The phenomenon has been used to partially explain the racial tension in the U. S. and particularly with the police shootings of Black men. The U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recognizes the important role unconscious bias plays in the life of attorneys and law enforcement.
As a result, the DOJ has been rolling out training to more than 23,000 agents in the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies as well as 5,800 attorneys in 94 U. S. Attorney’s Offices around the country. State and local police and sheriff departments are also conducting unconscious bias training.
In spite of over 50 years of civil rights law, inequality continues based on sex, race, disability, and other protected classes, as it relates to levels of education, poverty and success. Unconscious bias in the workplace influences those inequalities.
Courts have recognized the existence of unconscious discrimination since the earliest Title VII decisions and have specifically stated that Title VII reaches this form of discrimination.
More and more organizations are incorporating unconscious bias training for managers and employees recognizing the role it plays in workplace discrimination including hiring, promotion, retention, and talent management practices. Wall Street estimated that 20% of large corporations conduct training on how to tackle unconscious bias in the workplace.
It shapes the organizational climate. One of the challenges in managing bias in the workplace, based on the research, is that people are often resistant to accepting behavior that is inconsistent with their stereotypes, while accepting behavior that is consistent with stereotypes.
Learn how to tackle unconscious bias in the workplace and about the roles and responsibilities of the management in diminishing the bias.
Years of Experience: 52+ years
Areas of Expertise: Workplace Harassment, Organization Development, and Management/Leadership Development
Dr. Susan Strauss RN Ed.D. is a national and international speaker, trainer and consultant. Her specialty areas include education and workplace harassment, discrimination and bullying; organization development, and management/leadership development. Her clients are from healthcare, education, business, law, and government organizations from both the public and private sector. Susan conducts bullying and harassment investigations, works as an expert witness for education and workplace harassment and bullying lawsuits, and coaches those managers and employees that need assistance in stopping their harassing or bullying behavior.
Dr. Strauss has authored over 30 books, book chapters, and articles. Susan has been featured on 20/20, CBS Evening News, and other national and international television and radio programs as well as interviewed for newspaper and journal articles such as the Times of London, Lawyers Weekly, and Harvard Education Newsletter.
Susan has presented at international conferences in Botswana, Egypt, Thailand, Israel, Palestine, Bali, Lebanon, and the U.S., and conducted sex discrimination research in Poland. She has consulted with professionals from other countries such as Israel, England, Australia, Canada and St. Maartin. In addition to nursing education, she has her masters in community health and holds a doctorate in organizational leadership.View all trainings by this speaker