Intelligent CXO Issue 13 - Page 71

FINAL WORD bias is a subjective reality where individuals tend to perceive and deduce information based on their own experiences as well as preferences . These may run in parallel with additional prejudices and stereotypes , with the result that unconscious bias plays a role in their thought processes , judgement and decision-making .
Let ’ s be clear – unconscious bias is an implicit prejudice we all have . Nobody is immune to it . According to Nobel-winning neuroscientist , Erik Kandel , 80 % to 90 % of the mind works unconsciously , which implies that the brains of even the most outwardly unbiased people still exhibit the tendency . Our minds are accustomed to using visual , verbal and behavioural cues to categorise others and these are crucial for individuals to gauge a threat .
As Malcolm Gladwell put it in his book , Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking , we often resort to a ‘ thin-slicing ’ approach around patterns or beliefs to quickly address problems we encounter , even when done with the right intentions . However , this can also increase the level and depth of stereotypes individuals tend to form . The paradoxical element of thin-slicing is that it helps individuals not feel burdened with information , but on the flip side it reinforces stereotypes that might be incompatible with workplace equality .
The impact of unconscious bias tends to find its way into each aspect of an individual ’ s work-life cycle , from the interview and onboarding to the delegation of work and promotions , among many other issues . In fact , a report by IDC calls out unconscious bias in the workplace as very real .

Diversity has become a major driving force in contemporary corporate culture , as organisations increasingly focus on positive , inclusive values . However , while progressive policies are helping to address a variety of longstanding failures , there remain significant inconsistencies in impact and results .

Many industries are heading in the right direction by prioritising equality in their organisational strategy , but there is no denying that others still need to significantly raise the level of diversity in their leadership and address fundamental issues such as pay .
Even when equality is enshrined in company policy , cognitive bias can still stand in the way of a culture where ‘ actions speak louder than words ’. Cognitive
While it may seem obvious that women want the same outcomes from their careers as men , there is a prevailing myth that women are somehow less ambitious , less dedicated to their work ( in favour of home life ) or have less aptitude for technical work . These falsehoods – while gradually receding – carry a legacy of bias that impact career progression , workplace behaviour and issues such as pay equality .
Moreover , unconscious bias permeates society and is fuelled by cultural and social conditioning , sometimes lasting for generations .
But , as its role in the workplace and impact on career inequality becomes more closely scrutinised , how can organisations and the individuals within them move away from a behaviour pattern that is so deep-rooted , instant , and complex ? www . intelligentcxo . com