Scratching The Surface Of Unconscious Bias


Gender and race aren’t the only areas where people commonly harbor unconscious (and conscious) biases. You may have noticed that many organizations are undertaking company-wide efforts to counter bias around gender and race, creating initiatives to reduce pay disparity and to increase leadership opportunities among these groups. This is great, but it’s just scratching the surface.

Gender and race are far from the entire landscape. Negative biases can be based on a multitude of other factors, from people’s job functions to their age, their religion, their sexual orientation, and their socioeconomic status (and this list is nowhere near exhaustive).

Here are some other common areas for biases:

Educational: Whether you went to college, where you went to college, to what level you completed, and what you studied.

Family status: Whether you are single, married, divorced, and if you have children or not.

Political affiliation: Whether you are conservative, liberal, politically active, or inactive.

Nationality: Whether you are a citizen or if not, what country you come from.

Language: Whether you speak the native language fluently, with an accent, or if you speak multiple languages.

Even seemingly mundane characteristics like how messy someone’s desk is, their posture, or how powerful they look in their chair, can lead people into biased thinking.

While you can’t (nor should you) monitor every thought and action for bias against every kind of person, you can revisit the overall fairness of your procedures and decision-making regularly to build a more inclusive culture at work.


Unconscious biases are hard to identify, much less know their true impact. Before you can take steps to operate more fairly and effectively at work, you need to get your bearings. Download our latest guide: Seven Misconceptions About Unconscious Bias. 

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