We sometimes find ourselves in positions wherein we already have a preconceived idea of what we’ll do before we even hear the other side of the story. We naturally act in certain situations, only to find out later that what we did was unfair and irrational.
These prejudices that we unconsciously follow fall under the so-called implicit biases.
What is An Implicit Bias?
Implicit biases are stereotypes manifesting in our society that we’re generally unaware of. Instead of having a neutral stance in engaging certain situations or people, we tend to unconsciously associate them with thoughts and feelings that have been imparted to us by our environment.
Our brain makes biases because these provide patterns that are easier to recognize and act on.
We use these biases to predict how we’ll react, even if we know better with our conscious values.
The bigger our implicit bias is toward a certain subject, the more we exaggerate our conclusions and assumptions for that matter. The danger of stereotypes is that they can run opposite our beliefs and values without us even realizing it.
Aside from our brain’s natural response to make complex things simpler, there are external factors that stimulate our prejudices. Media outlets and social influences, for instance, are the main contributors to disseminating stereotypes through pop culture.
Examples of Implicit Biases
There are many implicit bias examples categorized under the likes of gender, race, culture, religion, and workplace. Here are some that persistently exists in our society and can be readily observed in several settings:
• Gender Bias
Gender biases are formed when we associate men and women according to the traditional traits assigned by society to each gender. Prejudices on what a man and woman can also extend in the workplace, resulting in differences in pay grades.
Female employees suffer from pay gaps due to gender biases. Some employers often view them as less capable compared to their peers, thus the lower pay grade, even if they’re doing the same work with their male counterparts.
Female entrepreneurs also agonize from gender biases whichever industry they’re in. They’re viewed as ruthless individuals who chose career over family.
• Workplace Bias
A common example is a business putting a “native English speaker” requirement on a job post but rejecting a bilingual because they’re non-native, even though they can perfectly speak the language.
• Racial Bias
Preferring one race over another is a popular implicit bias example under this category. Until now, racial biases still have broad effects in the legal system, in workplaces, and even in the use of public spaces.
Migrant workers are more vulnerable to discrimination, harassment, low wages, and lack of social security. Wage discrimination based on nationality is commonplace in the Asian and Middle Eastern regions, with Indonesian and Sri Lankan workers not getting paid the minimum wage.
• Religious bias
Religious bias is found in societies that restrict or grant no freedom to people who don’t believe in the predominant religion in the area.
In the Middle East, workers who are not Muslim are prohibited from displaying any religious symbol that does not concur with Muslim practices. Some businesses even exclude applicants that come from certain religious groups during the hiring process.
• Cultural bias
Cultural bias happens when we attribute a character to people belonging to a certain group. This results in cultural bias in the workplace that directly affects employee relationships.
For instance, there has been a case wherein a company fired a Muslim employee for wearing a hijab. The management said that the employee violated the company dress code even though the hijab was part of the employee’s cultural practice.
Even though implicit biases reside in our unconscious mind, we can train our thoughts to adjust and not act immediately on the said prejudices.
Strategies to Reduce Implicit Biases
Just like a bad habit, it’s hard to remove biases. However, through deliberate practice and constant awareness, we can train our brains to consciously recognize our prejudices.
Here are ways to reduce implicit biases and convert them into explicit ones. Once we become aware of our prejudices, it will be easier to follow or act against them.
These practices can also be adopted by businesses to foster a more diverse workplace culture that’s open-minded and unbiased.
1) Educate ourselves
Understanding how prejudices are developed and looking for strategies to reduce implicit biases help in eliminating such stereotypes. There are a lot of materials on the topic on the internet, waiting for us to absorb and incorporate them into our daily lives.
Reading more about other cultures and behaviors that come out as offensive (such as microaggressions) will help increase our awareness of our preconceived ideas.
The FELS’ pillar of continuous learning encourages us as entrepreneurs to be more curious and inquisitive with what’s happening around us. By fostering awareness of other people’s beliefs and encouraging employees to study more about different cultures, prejudices can be gradually eliminated and make the workplace a more caring environment for everyone.
2) Meditate regularly
Improving mindfulness is one of the strategies to reduce implicit bias. Meditation eliminates cognitive load and allows us to focus on thoughts that come to mind, including prejudices.
A 2016 research on the effects of meditation revealed that regular meditation helped people greatly reduce their unconscious bias. Further studies are being conducted on this matter, but this is a good start to prove that there’s a way to reduce implicit biases through effort.
Another way to reduce implicit bias is to strengthen our core values and beliefs so that they come first naturally before our predispositions. This coincides with the FELS’ pillar of firming spiritual depth that can help us determine the action that’s in the best interest of the society.
Through meditation, we can constantly remind our minds to put our values first before we succumb to our prejudices.
3) Broaden our perspective
Being open–minded is one of the key elements necessary to be a successful entrepreneur. By looking beyond our point of view and extending our perspective, we can form strategies to reduce implicit biases. Having a broader perspective of the situation allows us to consciously distinguish whether we’re being fair on our decisions.
Traveling and exploration can help broaden our perception of the world. By immersing ourselves in different cultures and lifestyles, we’ll have a better understanding of the everyday lives of other people. We’ll become more empathetic of their practices and be able to eliminate implicit biases in how we treat them.
As entrepreneurs building a startup business, we can practice open–mindedness by fostering workforce diversity. We can hire people coming from different cultures and ideologies and build an environment where everyone respects each other’s differences in opinion and outlook. With this, we can develop a company that’s resilient from implicit biases and unique in developing ideas that come from diverse perspectives.
There are several strategies to reduce implicit bias, but most of them start with analyzing our behaviors and judgments. Self-awareness is the key to determining whether our minds are giving in to our implicit biases or if our actions are just the most logical thing to do.
Implicit biases can save us the trouble of thinking too much about things, but they can also lead us to making unfair decisions when dealing with certain situations. These prejudices are hardwired to our cognitive process, but they can be reduced and make us aware of them as they arise.
As entrepreneurs who believe in FELS ideals, we want to develop a kind of balanced thinking that’s open to the opinion of different people coming from a variety of backgrounds. We want to promote a lifestyle that’s beneficial to our mental health while following an outlook that aims to make the world a better place.
By regularly practicing the strategies to reduce implicit bias discussed here, we can be more impartial in the decision-making process that will lead us to success.