Here’s the pickle:
Leaders are affected by many forms of unconscious bias. So how do you fix a problem that is outside of your awareness?
Step 1 – Acknowledge that you have a problem
Your perceptions, attitudes, behaviors and decisions are heavily influenced by many types of bias. Once you know you are in a pickle you stand a chance of doing something about it.
Step 2 – Know your Pickle
Are you in a dill pickle? A bread and butter pickle? A sweet pickle? A kosher dill? An overnight dill? A polish dill?
Here are some types of bias pickles you may unknowingly be in:
Conformity Bias – Occurs when a majority of team members are thinking in a certain way and the leader conforms unconsciously.
Beauty Bias – Favoring physically attractive team members.
Affinity Bias – We align with those like us, from the same hometown, graduated from the same university, cheer for the same sports team, drive the same model of vehicle.
Gender Bias – It practically goes without saying that men are better drivers.
Confirmation Bias – Once we’ve made a judgment about another person we subconsciously seek evidence to support our opinion.
Racial Bias – Birds of a feather flock together.
Step 3 – Know your Roots
All pickles come from a cucumber. All leaders come from a family.
How does our unconsciuos bias become informed by our family of origin?
How does our family of origin become informed by geography?
How does the level of brine (anxiety) in our families affect the types of pickles we are in?
Step 4 – Enjoy the Pickle
Once you start to pay very close attention to pickles you will see just how many you are in. So go easy on yourself. It is unsettling to discover the pickles we are in and to see the influence of our families of origin. Pickles have been around for thousands of years dating as far back as 2030 BC when cucumbers from their native India were pickled in the Tigres Valley. Unconscious Bias has been around for just as long. It is possible that the anxiety present in the briners of those original picklers has transmitted through the generations to affect the flavor of your bias today.
Just as the pickling process has a preserving effect so too do unconscious bias. Stepping outside of the family and societal pickle jars by defining a different self comes with risks of isolation. However, these bias preserve comfort at the expense of personal growth.