by Patti C. Perez
Originally published: July 17, 2017
Unconscious bias (also called “implicit bias”) has become a trending topic—both in the general media and in the HR world. The topic of unconscious bias is often cited when considering ways companies can improve their diversity and inclusion efforts by recruiting and retaining diverse talent. It’s also critically relevant in the context of conducting workplace investigations because an essential duty of any workplace investigator is to conduct independent, unbiased inquiries about allegations of workplace misconduct.
What Is Unconscious Bias?
Numerous factors influence people’s unconscious thoughts. Whether from the news, movies, or social media, we are bombarded with stimuli that inform our beliefs about certain groups and political issues. In fact, research shows that our brains receive tens of millions of pieces of stimuli at a time, but we can only consciously process about 40 of those pieces. We form beliefs on the basis of this input (including our interactions, experiences, and exposure, or lack of exposure to certain groups). Some of these beliefs represent accurate information and some reflect prejudices and biases.