Concepts of apprehended bias and actual bias are well known to lawyers, so what’s with unconscious bias? Unconscious or implicit bias describes how our minds rely on short cuts to make judgments or assessments about a person, event or circumstances. Everyone has unconscious biases. They are necessary to our everyday functioning. We cannot apply conscious and deliberate decision making or analysis to every action, we need rely automatic responses – a flight or fight response is an obvious example. Such automatic responses are unintentional. They are based on engrained ways of seeing the world. Unconscious bias works by relying on patterns and stereotypes. For example, in a hospital a common stereotype may mean we unconsciously assume a surgeon will be male and a nurse will be female.
Unconscious bias becomes a problem when the mental shortcuts result in inaccurate, incorrect or unfair assessment about a person, event or circumstances. Being aware of unconscious bias provides us with the opportunity to make better decision-making and have new approaches to problem solving. Find out about your biases - take the Harvard Implicit Bias test: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html or the Symmetra on line program http://www.diversityinlaw.com.au/