Spotting Affinity Bias in Your Hiring and Your Workplace

By Krista Pouncy-Dyson
Founder of DiversityEmployed.com
December 11, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Affinity bias is our tendency to gravitate towards — and connect with — individuals who resemble ourselves. Whether it is hailing from the same hometown, sharing the same political views, or being a part of the same race, affinity bias perpetuates homogeneity.

Below are examples of the kinds of thoughts that signal affinity bias:

Woman sees her own reflection instead of the diversity of others.
Affinity bias prompts us to favor people like ourselves.
  • "I'm more comfortable with people who look like me."
  • "I want to hire people who are just like me."
  • "I prefer to be around people like me. I get along with them better than other people."

Inside and outside of the workforce, affinity bias bars us from all of the benefits embedded in diversity.

Here are four tips for avoiding affinity bias in the workplace:

  • Be Aware: Recognize that people in your workplace will tend to drift towards others like themselves in the absence of concrete guidance that promotes diversity. This includes you.
  • Ask Questions, Question Others: If you notice your organization signaling affinity bias, be ready to ask others about what you are seeing or hearing. Ask leaders how the organization can avoid bias and seek more diversity.
  • Get Educated: Seek and share information about affinity bias and how it can prevent your organization from benefitting from more diversity.
  • Take Action! If you’re comfortable doing so, you can tell on yourself when you catch yourself saying or doing something that reflects affinity bias. Others will be more likely to appreciate the higher ideals that you are striving for.

Help your organization gain a competitive edge by hiring, embracing, supporting, and empowering a diverse workforce. Be a force for positive change.

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 Affinity Bias & Workplace Diversity

The Negative Impact of Affinity Bias by Consultant Tyrone Holmes