Sadly, We Can Never Fully Escape Our Unconscious Bias

There are some strategies to make us more aware and better deal with them

Jim Farina
4 min readAug 4, 2022

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Becoming an Ally, Recognizing Unconscious Bias and Privilege #tlt18 keynote by @KoryWilson #viznotes by giulia.forsythe

Recently, my manager and company VP, Angela, asked one of our summer interns, “Do you know who I report to?” The intern thought about it for a moment and said, “Isn’t your boss that older man with gray hair? The guy who you were walking around with at the planetarium?”

The intern was referencing one of the many summer outings we planned as a means to encourage some camaraderie and social connection among the staff. I was the older (white) man with gray hair. Angela, my manager and company VP, is younger and African American. So, it would naturally make sense to assume that I am her manager, right?

It’s an inference that many posed with the same situation might assert. And they’d be wrong. We all make these unconscious bias judgments based on our past experiences. It’s the result of mental shortcuts, our likes, and dislikes. It’s a natural part of the human condition — especially in the workplace.

Many of us think that good salespeople are always extroverts (which, by the way, isn’t true). But biases are often tricky to deal with when they’re unconscious — when people don’t even realize they think a certain way.

It’s the same thinking as why we have so many people with strong accents who are paid an average of 20 percent less. A majority of leading CEOs are over six feet tall. There’s a correlation between professional success and the lightness of your skin.

According to the authors of The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias, there’s a four-step model for tackling unconscious bias. In this article, I will cover the first two steps below. I’ll then cover steps three and four in a separate piece.

Step 1 — Identify Bias

Step 2 — Cultivate Connection — in other words, reach out to other people

The first step in tackling your unconscious bias is to identify your biases

At work, it’s normal to feel overloaded with information or need to make quick decisions. That sort of pressure can cause a few different forms of bias. One example is…

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Jim Farina

Serving only the freshest, organic content. Writing prepared with the best quality ingredients, easy to digest and shareable. jimfarina @att.net