Why biases?

December 5, 2019

We talk a lot about biases at Step Up. We believe that big things can happen when we start looking inside ourselves and our organizations to recognize, own, and disrupt our biases. But why?

Biases are human nature, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept the biases we have. The human brain makes quick judgments and looks for shortcuts to translate all of the stimulation coming at us via our senses. These snap judgments help us navigate the world without becoming completely overwhelmed.

We evolved to where we are today thanks in part to the ability to make such quick decisions: safety or danger; life or death; friend or foe; safe or poisonous. This is how biases work; they help us get through the day without overloading our brain.

However, what is the impact of such unconscious decisions when we make them based on gender, race, ethnicity, income, etc.? It can be uncomfortable to reflect upon such a daunting and traditionally taboo topic.

It is important to understand that as humans this is normal. We are predisposed to have biases for self-preservation. However, it is important to note that we are not born with biases. Exposure to our society develops and embeds biases in our brain through family norms, culture, geography, music, media, etc. It is our responsibility to take time to reflect on our biases, see how they are impacting the world around us, and work to disrupt biases that do not serve us.

“Ninety-nine percent of who we are is invisible and untouchable” - R. Buckminster Fuller

At Step Up we focus on biases because you can’t change what you can’t see. By seeing - and owning - your biases, you can disrupt them.

Perhaps the area where biases affect organizations most is within the talent management cycle. At each step of the cycle, there is human intervention, meaning the opportunity for partiality and fallibility. From deciding where to post a job description to who is promoted, the unconscious side of human minds plays a big role in the talent management process.

There is no one solution to fix disparities. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and change isn’t happening fast enough. However, change IS happening. You can be part of that change. We at Step Up invite you to take the pledge and join us.