Bias is instinctive, but it doesn’t have to stink.
“Biased” means one-sided, lacking a neutral viewpoint, or not having an open mind. Those descriptors inspired the three steps of BiasBuster™. They parallel the whole process, from raising awareness of bias to providing tools for managing bias.
It is natural for a person to have bias. However, heightened awareness and conscious choices can help us recognize and sterilize our biases. This is important because bias has fueled inequality, disparate impact, and many other discrimination-related issues.
When we look In, Out, and Above ourselves, we are able to identify bias and transcend it.
Step 1 of 3: “In”
Everything begins in our minds. So, we start this process by looking at ourselves.
I don’t know about you, but I only know things from my own point-of-view. If we were sitting in a ballpark, watching our favorite baseball team, and you were behind home plate while my seat was in the outfield, we’d have two different views of the one game.
That same idea applies to life.
Inherent bias refers to the effect of underlying factors or assumptions that skew viewpoints of a subject.
The process of forming biases begins at birth — read posts on Socialization. Our families teach us patterns, habits, values, beliefs, etc. We go to certain places, like school or a place of worship. We take up hobbies or sports, join clubs revolving around various subjects, or go to events which pique our interests. And, as we do those things, we spend time with the likeminded people who are also there. …see how it goes?
Our respective ways of life become solidified in many ways. Learn about Confirmation Bias.
Our own personal way of life isn’t the only way to live, but it’s all you or I know.
Therefore, the first step is to Recognize Your Programming.
Step 2 of 3: “Out”
We operate from our own POVs, and we are each serving the interests we feel are best. The key is fully realizing that is true for everyone, not just for ourselves or the people we agree with, or in the ways we agree with.
If the first step is realizing we have bias as a result of simply being alive, it follows that the next step is realizing the same applies to others. The sun rises and sets on all of us, no matter our beliefs, location, or demographics.
Looking outward provides perspective, which breeds understanding and develops empathy, and allows us to extend respect to others.
You don’t have to adhere to someone else’s code for living (I encourage you to create your own), but you can respect that they, like you, have been on a unique journey.
Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that we form outside our own conscious awareness.
Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize and categorize our society and world. Biases are built in our brains from the information we’ve taken in, remember?
The unconscious is tough to pin down, and its influence is hard to identify because it – by definition – is not something we are aware of. So, we have to find other ways to identify how our unconscious bias affects our thoughts and decisions. Then, we can create innovative ways to minimize undesirable effects.
Actions have consequences, or outcomes. Results matter
That’s why, in this step, we go beyond mere empathy to “bigger” principles to guide our actions. When we are led by deeper fundamentals, like compassion or being an example of the ideal we may have in our mind, we are able to rise above the typical issues and arguments to newer, better ways of being.
At this level, we can create better solutions for our problems, manage our differences, and provide leadership for achieving a greater good. Read these articles to see what’s possible: