We are biased, even the most open-minded amongst us.
Nobody talks about bias better than Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt in her much-acclaimed book “Biased.” We hold biases based on so many characteristics from gender to race to height. Dr. Eberhardt narrates her story of how she was body slammed by a police officer on the top of the roof of her car for driving a car in Boston that had its registration in her mother’s name. Later, a meta-analysis of 18.5 million traffic stops across the US between 2010 and 2016 done by her graduate student, Nicholas Camp, showed that when “black drivers are pulled over, they are more than twice as likely as white drivers to have been stopped for an equipment violation (broken light, expired tag etc) than a moving violation.”
The stereotypes in our heads are generations old and social media makes us more biased. Today, it’s easy to spread what’s wrong faster than what’s right.
Everyday biases at work can stunt careers and prevent opportunities for growth. In an article in the Harvard Business Journal “Are you aware of your biases?” leadership coach Carmen Acton tells us why she had shunned a smart employee from good projects because she assumed he was not fit to do the job because he didn’t have a college degree.
Understand your biases before you start launching your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work. Being aware of oneself is the first step towards a journey that includes everyone and excludes none.