Introduction to GBA Plus

How can I mitigate my unconscious bias?

Now that you have some background and a basic understanding of how biases are formed – and you’ve seen unconscious biases in action – you may be thinking that you have enough knowledge and understanding to bypass them. Awareness and training are a good start; however, given that our unconscious biases are deeply ingrained, being aware of them is not enough.

Training without a solution has the potential to backfire. So, what do we do? How do we catch ourselves when we are giving in to our biases?

We need to disrupt our unconscious biases. Once identified, you know which patterns of thought to avoid. Disruption can take many forms, like active reflection, including a self-check (e.g. question the judgements you use to make decisions) which can help remove the emotional clutter creating barriers. Disrupting biases can also take the form of practicing inclusive behaviours by questioning our surroundings, our peer-groups, and making conscious efforts to work with individuals that are different from ourselves.

Being aware of our unconscious biases benefits us all. Challenging our assumptions, and destabilizing our unconscious biases helps debunk common attitudes and stereotypes that undermine our efforts to achieve an equal and inclusive society. Identifying and challenging unconscious biases benefits us all and it is work that we need to do together. If you’re having trouble identifying your unconscious biases, that’s okay. Reach out to someone you trust (e.g. a close friend, family) to help you identify them. We all have them, and we can all work together to disrupt them.

Think big! Think big! Have you been able to identify your own unconscious biases? See Kristen Pressner’s TedTalk, Are you biased? I am, and try her “Flip it to test it” exercise to identify your biases. The premise behind “Flip it to test it” is that you attribute common, even stereotypical, characteristics to two groups, and then you flip the characteristics. If the new attributes assigned to the groups look a bit odd to you, you may have some unconscious biases. As an external link, this website is available in English only.