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Toolbox Talk: Unintentional Bias

Manson’s first core value is “Take care of people first and always.”

The question is: are we personally living up to this core value? The answer may not always be YES, and the reason why our actions or values don’t always match might stem from what is known as “unconscious” or “unintentional bias.”

Each of us has had vastly different experiences throughout our lives that affect our actions and perceptions. Our brain uses these past experiences to create shortcuts so we can make decisions quickly, even when we don’t have all the facts. This is useful in “fight or flight” decision-making scenarios to protect ourselves. However, these quick decisions can also lead to unintentional bias, which happens when we develop a belief from past experiences, which unconsciously affects our actions in a discriminatory manner.

Unintentional bias often manifests from a “like me” bias. A “like me” bias develops because people tend to be drawn towards others who are similar to them. This often leads to including people who are “like us” and excluding people who are “not like us.”

The following exercise will help us recognize our individual “like me” bias, which will help to bring awareness to our own unconscious or unintentional bias so we can address them.

Lesson Takeaway:

If given the choice, most people would choose to work and surround themselves with those who fall under the “like me” category. The disadvantage of “like me” bias prevents companies and groups in creating inclusive and diverse environments for all. Inclusiveness and diversity at the worksite improves trust, consistent recruitment, retention of skilled- talent, and a safer work environment.

Try to identify at least one unintentional bias in the next week and work to dismantle that bias.

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