How Implicit Bias Affects Our Behavior

People of different races shake hands
We all have biases about others.

By Krista Pouncy-Dyson
Founder of DiversityEmployed.com
January 2, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

Implicit bias is our tendency to act on stereotypes, prejudices, and preconceived ideas — often without intending to do so. There are many implicit biases that are often entrenched in our warped perceptions of people who are different from us in regard to race, religion, gender identity, abilities, sexuality, etc.

Here are some examples of how implicit bias can impact how you act:

  • Crossing the street when you see a Black man walking towards you.
  • Assuming the individuals you meet are in — or have been in — monogamous heterosexual relationships.

Just because our biases emerge unconsciously, it does not make them any less harmful. In fact, unconscious biases can be the most harmful if we do not acknowledge their existence, unpack them, understand them, and correct them.

Are you ready to confront implicit bias? Follow these four tips:

  1. Be Aware: Companies often err by using phrases like "fast-paced" and "work hard, play hard," which telegraph "mainstream male," says. Laura Mather, CEO of Unitive, which helps companies recruit diverse employees.
  2. Ask Questions: Find out whether your team resembles the larger workforce.
  3. Get Educated: Firms that use terms like "support" and “teamwork" in job descriptions tend to attract more minority candidates.
  4. Take Action! To change our biases, we need to alter the environment that produced them, according to Stanford University psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt.

Krista Pouncy-Dyson is the founder of DiversityEmployed.com and managing principal for Performance First Digital, a marketing agency in New Orleans. You can connect with the author on LinkedIn.

Learn More About Combating Bias

Learn More About Implicit Bias and Racism From the New York Times