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Unconscious Bias


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Femi Otitoju Challenge Consultancy
Unconscious Bias refers to the biases we hold that are outside our conscious control. Research shows that these biases can adversely affect key decisions in the workplace. This presentation will explore how are biases are formed, how they affect our interactions with others and the way we make decisions. It will also identify methods for minimising our bias and mechanisms we can employ to ameliorate the impact of our bias.

Published in: Education
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Unconscious Bias

  1. 1. Unconscious Bias Femi Otitoju of Challenge Consultancy
  2. 2. Creds
  3. 3. In this session.. Concept of unconscious bias Impact of unconscious bias on decision-making and relationships at work Strategies to combat bias
  4. 4. Diversity’s dividend New research makes it increasingly clear that companies with more diverse workforces perform better (McKinsey Report: Why Diversity Matters Jan 2015) Gender diverse companies Ethnically diverse companies More likely to outperform More likely to outperform15% 35%
  5. 5. Diversity’s dividend Analysis of 6,500 FTSE 250 boards showed companies with more women on boards are less likely to be hit by scandals such as bribery, fraud or shareholder battles. (Source: MSCI analysis reported in The Financial Times
  7. 7. Global gender disparities The relationship between gender and research output: Men dominate scientific production in nearly every country. Fractionalised authorships Globally, women account for fewer than 30% of authorships Every article with a female first-author, there are nearly two (1.93) articles first-authored by a male 7 Nature volume 504 dated 12 December 2013 in which Cassidy R. Sugimoto et al.
  8. 8. Global gender disparities 8
  9. 9. 35% of the overall workforce are people of working class origins . ONS Labourforce survey discrimination
  10. 10. £23k 'class pay gap' in publishing
  11. 11. Gender bias in publishing Catherine Nichols sent out identical query letters to 50 literary agents under her own name and a male pseudonym, George. Nichols 2015
  12. 12. Gender bias in publishing Out of 50 letters sent, she received 2 requests under her name and 17 requests under the name George Nichols 2015
  13. 13. • When sending the letters to the same agent, Catherine was rejected but George’s book was sent to a senior agent. • She received faster responses and more complimentary feedback as George.
  14. 14. Danuta Kean “[Black and Minority Ethnic]Writers find that they are advised by agents and editors to make their manuscripts marketable in this country by upping the sari count, dealing with gang culture or some other image that conforms to white preconceptions,”
  15. 15. “the covers of most novels ‘about Africa’ seem to have been designed by someone whose principal idea of the continent comes from The Lion King.” Michael Silverberg
  16. 16. THE CONCEPT Unconscious Bias
  17. 17. Unconscious biases are… Automatic and rapid We do not have to believe a stereotype for it to affect us Often in our personal ‘bias blind spot’ Pervasive, and we ALL have them Dr Pete Jones C.Psychol. AFBPsS, C.Sci
  18. 18. Culture Religion SeniorityEthnicity Sexual Orientation Physical ability Mental ability Income Education Upbringing Age Gender Marital status
  19. 19. Mahzarin Banaji Ph.D. Scientist Project Implicit 23 “Exposed to images that juxtapose black men and violence, portray women as sex objects, Imply the physically disabled are mentally weak and the poor are lazy even the most consciously unbiased person is bound to make biased associations” These associations play out in the workplace just as they do anywhere else
  20. 20. How our bias shows Five cognitive biases
  21. 21. 1. Affinity bias People who look like us, sound like us, behave like us, or with whom we believe we have something in common Leads us to unconsciously favour people who are like us
  22. 22. Research shows that interviews can be poor predictors of job performance We tend to hire people we feel comfortable with rather than those who are objectively going to do a good job CiPD – A Head for Hiring 2013
  24. 24. 2. Confirmation bias We see and hear in a way that confirms our expectations (conscious or unconscious)
  25. 25. Screened Auditions When applicants were behind a screen, the % of female new hires for orchestral jobs increased from 25% – 46% Goldin & Rouse The American Economic Review, 90, 4, 715-741.
  26. 26. IMPACT?
  27. 27. A candidate for a managers position was deemed more competent, qualified, and hirable if they had a male name. They were also offered more money. “Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favour male students” October 9, 2012 Identical application materials submitted under a female name were judged as less qualified.
  28. 28. Is it easier to get a job if you're Adam or Mohamed? Inside Out London (Feb.17) sent CVs from two candidates, "Adam" and "Mohamed", who had identical skills and experience, in response to 100 job opportunities. Adam: offered 12 interviews Mohamed: offered 4 interviews
  30. 30. 3. Horns and Halos We see one thing about a person…
  31. 31. Halos: We let the halo glow affect our opinions of everything else about that person
  32. 32. Horns: We let the perceived negative cloud our opinions of their other attributes
  33. 33. Beauty pays Handsome men are likely to make 13% more during their careers than less attractive peers Prettier, thinner and lighter skinned women find it easier to access loans Beauty Pays - Hamermesh 2013 Beauty, weight, and skin color in giving – Christina Jenq, Jessica Pan 2015
  35. 35. 4. Out Group Homogeneity Out-group homogeneity – the perception that everyone from a different group to our own, is similar (e.g. ethnicity or social class).
  36. 36. Outgroup homogeneity effect “They are alike We are diverse”
  38. 38. 4. Group think Occurs when a group values harmony and coherence over accurate analysis and critical evaluation Individual members of the group follow the word of a leader - disagreement is discouraged
  39. 39. Asch conformity experiments
  41. 41. 5. Biased recall The tendency to make memory errors consistent with implicit association and stereotypes, even when presented with objective facts to the contrary, such as test scores
  42. 42. Male students consistently rank male students as more intelligent than better- performing female students “Males Underestimate Academic Performance of Their Female Peers in Undergraduate Biology Classrooms” February 10, 2016
  43. 43. Letters of recommendation for successful medical school applicants: Letters for men: Longer More references to: CV Publications Patients Colleagues Letters for women : Shorter More references to personal life More “doubt raisers” (hedges, faint praise, and irrelevancies) “It’s amazing how much she’s accomplished.” “It appears her health is stable.” “She is close to my wife.” Trix & Psenka (2013) Discourse & Society, Vol 14(2): 191-220.
  45. 45. They are called “micro” because the behaviours are small, although their impact can be enormous. Micro-messages: The signals we send to one another through our behaviour.
  46. 46. • Failing to learn to pronounce or continuing to mispronounce the names of colleagues after they have corrected you • Changing someone’s name to “something easier” • Not using someone’s name because you’re unsure of how to say it MICRO INEQUITIES My name’s Aminatta Am-a-what? Aminatta Am-a-nut? Aminatta Think we’ll introduce you to the team as Amy
  47. 47. • Scheduling project due dates on religious or cultural holidays. • Disregarding religious traditions, beliefs or their details. (Eg staff fasting, needing particular food or leaving early on fridays) • Anticipating colleagues’ emotional responses based on ethnicity, faith, gender, race, or sexual orientation. MICRO INEQUITIES
  48. 48. • Expecting staff of any particular group to ‘represent’ the perspectives of others of their race, gender, etc. • Using inappropriate language or making inappropriate jokes • Featuring pictures of people of only one ethnicity or gender on promotional material or in the office environment • Using fonts that are difficult to read MICRO INEQUITIES
  49. 49. More examples • Continuing to misuse pronouns even after someone has raised an issue • Assuming someone is not disabled because you can’t see a disability • Expecting certain people to do more of the “office housework”
  50. 50. MICRO AFFIRMATIONS Mechanisms for tackling the impact of unconscious bias on individuals
  51. 51. Micro-affirmations Ask how to be an ally Amplify others voices Challenge inappropriate behaviour
  52. 52. Micro affirmations Appreciative enquiry Networks Mentoring and advocacy
  53. 53. 10 Steps to tackling Unconscious Bias 1. Increase your awareness of your bias –IAT 2. Use constructive uncertainty 3. Widen circles to make new associations 4. Measure - don’t rely on your own perceptions of “fit” 5. Anonymise where possible and build in accountability for decisions 6. Slow down to reduce cognitive load 7. Count everything 8. Check language 9. Positive images 10. Use micro affirmations to address inequities
  54. 54. Femi Otitoju Challenge Consultancy 020 7272 3400