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Lately, the concept of unconscious bias or “hidden bias” has come into the forefront of our work as diversity advocates because the dynamics of diversity are changing as we enter the 21st Century. Our tradition paradigm has generally assumed that patterns of discriminatory behavior in organizations are conscious; that people who know better do the right thing, and those who do not cause bias. As a result, we have developed a “good person/bad person” paradigm of diversity: a belief that good people are not biased, but inclusive, and that bad people are the biased ones (R. Cook 2008).

Forms of unconscious bias with foreign employees:

Out of the 10 unconscious biases mentioned in the article by Cook Ross (2014), I have noted the following to have a negative impact on the international business relations. Diagnosis bias, having foreign employees from India, employees make a quick decision on how to act with a person just based on initial perceived opinion. Pattern recognition, employees decide that if the Indian employee has completed a task wrong once before, they will do it wrongly again. Value attribution, employees consider that foreign Indian employees have values that they take for granted. Confirmational behavior, employees in Finland have noted to consider that what confirms their beliefs and then ignore what contradicts their beliefs while also disregarding the facts that contradict their points of view. Automatic perception, the Finnish employees have a reflexive reaction to the Indian employees, object or situation based on unconscious associations and expectations. Selective Attention/Inattentional Blindness, this occurs constantly with both the Finnish and the Indian employees, as they have the propensity to see some matters and not others, this depends upon what the employee is paying attention to at the particular moment. Priming Effect, this is also something that both Finnish and Indian employees do, they respond to something based on expectations created by a previous experience or association. Commitment Confirmation/Loss Aversion: every human has the tendency to maintain belief or support in something because they are committed to it and because they want to avoid possible losses. This is something that is noted to be done by both Finnish and Indian employees. Stereotype Threat, this seems to occur more by the Finnish employees in the parent company to the Indian employees, however, I believe this should be noted to occur both ways. Lastly, Anchoring Bias, I believe that this is a trait that occurs with both Finnish and Indian employees by relying on one trait or piece of information.

Biases ranked:

Unconscious bias: Unconscious bias:
1. Stereotype threat 6. Commitment Confirmation/Loss Aversion
2. Diagnosis bias 7. Priming Effect
3. Pattern recognition 8. Value attribution
4. Confirmation behavior 9. Selective Attention/Inattentional Blindness
5. Automatic perception 10. Anchoring Bias

Actions how to eliminate unconscious bias:

1. Recognize that as human beings, our brains make mistakes without us even knowing it. The new science of “unconscious bias” applies to how we perceive other people. We’re all biased and becoming aware of our own biases will help us mitigate them in the workplace.
2. Reframe the conversation to focus on fair treatment and respect, and away from discrimination and “protected classes”. Review every aspect of the employment life cycle for hidden bias – screening resumes, interviews, on boarding, assignment process, mentoring programs, performance evaluation, identifying high performers, promotion and termination.
3. Ensure that anonymous employee surveys are conducted company-wide to first understand what specific issues of hidden bias and unfairness might exist at your workplace. Each department or location may have different issues.
4. Conduct anonymous surveys with former employees to understand what were the issues they faced, what steps could be taken for them to consider coming back, whether they encourage or discourage prospective employees from applying for positions at your company and whether they encourage or discourage prospective customers/clients from using your company’s products or services.
5. Offer customized training based upon survey results of current and former employees that includes examples of hidden bias, forms of unfairness that are hurtful and demotivating, and positive methods to discuss these issues.
6. Offer an anonymous, third party complaint channel such as an ombudsperson; since most of the behaviors that employees perceive as unfair are not covered by current laws – e.g. bullying, very subtle bias – existing formal complaint channels simply don’t work.
7. Initiate a resume study within your industry, company and/or department to see whether resumes with roughly equivalent education and experience are weighted equally, when the names are obviously gender or race or culturally distinct.
8. Launch a resume study within your company and/or department to reassign points based on earned accomplishments vs. accidents of birth – e.g. take points off for someone who had an unpaid internship, add points for someone who put him/herself through college.
9. Support projects that encourage positive images of persons of color, GLBT and women. Distribute stories and pictures widely that portray stereotype-busting images – posters, newsletters, annual reports, speaker series, pod casts. Many studies show that the mere positive image of specific groups of people can combat our hidden bias.
10. Identify, support and collaborate with effective programs that increase diversity in the pipeline. Reward employees who volunteer with these groups, create internships and other bridges, and celebrate the stories of those who successfully overcome obstacles (R. Cook 2008).

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