5 Major Areas of Unconscious Biases (overview)

In order to unlearn our unconscious biases, it can help to know what form they take. There are five main categories of unconscious bias:

Personality: When your personality type blinds you to aspects of others’ personalities. 

Visible characteristics: When you have biases about others based on how they look, such as their race, gender, ethnicity, age, etc.

Culture: When you have biases based on the norms of your own culture. 

Organizational: When businesses or their employees have biases based on the way things are typically done in the industry or company.

Behavior: When factors like your way of communicating or how you see yourself in a group unconsciously impact how you feel or act toward others.

Another aspect of these unconscious biases is how they can interact or combine with each other, often called intersectionality. For instance, while men in the U.S. earn an average of 19 percent more than women, Black and Hispanic women earn less than white women. Racism and sexism intertwine to create more barriers than either does alone. Think about other ways various biases might combine for people.

Reviewing all these, it’s easy to see how we may be accidentally acting in ways that are unhelpful to our customers, employees, and businesses. It can be useful to read through these, not as a one-time exercise, but regularly, to keep them in the forefront of our minds as we interact with others.

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Unconscious Bias: It’s Time to Wake Up