How employees and managers can combat unconscious bias

Combatting unconscious biases is hard, because they don’t feel wrong; they feel right. But there are things that individuals - employees and managers - can do to mitigate the potentially negative influence of unconscious bias.

Why is reducing the influence of unconscious bias, or "unbiasing” as it's called at Google, so difficult? For starters, you're dealing with the unconscious and there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Research shows it’s difficult to detect unconscious subtleties and it’s hard to take action on something you don’t detect. But there are things individuals can proactively do to make the unconscious conscious.

My co-author, Dr. Eden King, Associate Professor of Psychology at George Mason University, and I reviewed the literature for a paper published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) Science of HR White Paper Series. The paper identifies a number of strategies that can help individuals, employees and managers alike, take charge of their unconscious bias and begin unbiasing the workplace.

What an employee can do:

What a manager can do:

While these lists aren’t exhaustive or mutually exclusive, they provide an important starting point for employees and managers to begin unbiasing their own workplace experience and that of their coworkers.