Analysing Real-World Unconscious Bias

Published on: Thu 9 February 2017 by Admin

Sometimes when you’re providing training, a real-world example can provide a connection point for learners. It gives them the opportunity to identify real life situations and put their knowledge to the test. This is especially true for Unconscious Bias.

What is Unconscious Bias and how does it affect everyone?

Unconscious biases are learned and deeply ingrained stereotypes about other people based on traits like gender, social class, race, and height and weight. These hidden judgments can extend to a person’s educational level, disability, sexuality, accent, social status, and job title. Unconscious bias affects every one of us; it is relevant no matter who you are or what you do.

The biggest issue with Unconscious Bias is – you’ve guessed it – it’s an unconscious reaction! You have no idea why you’ve made that decision, only that you feel it’s the right one. It’s perfectly natural to feel like this, so don’t panic yourself too much, but being able to spot it can help.

Examples of Unconscious Bias

We’ve found two real-world examples of Unconscious Bias, and we’ll walk you through why they are bias, and how they have been, or could be, remedied:

The National Anthem at the Superbowl

The 2017 Superbowl saw the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in the final moments of the game. It was a spectacular watch, but for more than just that. No we aren’t talking about Lady Gaga, we’re talking about Luke Bryan.

Luke Bryan was the first man to sing the American National Anthem at the Superbowl in 10 years!

Unbelievable right?

Taking a look at the face value of this, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since Billy Joel sang the national anthem, but it’s true. But what does this mean? Has there been unconscious bias for 10 years by the committee who chooses the singer to be a women every year?

Of course we’ll never know the full reasoning’s behind their decision, but it can be easy to draw conclusions. American football is a largely male watched sport, so can you blame them for wanting to hire an attractive female woman to sing in front of them?

We posed this question to our Facebook fans, and our own Vicci Whelan said:

“I guess it could be bias, the first man in 10 years, that’s a long time!! The question is who are the decision makers, has it previously been men making the decision of who should perform? Have they recently had a woman or women involved in making this decision? I do think it’s wrong to have taken this long for a man to be performing. But maybe this is a sign of things to come and we will have a bit more variety”

Google and YouTube

You would think one of the biggest technology companies in the world would be immune to unconscious bias, however small. But no, even Google and their video platform YouTube have fallen prey to an unconscious decision-making

When they launched their video upload app for iOS, YouTube began to receive an influx of concerns that their videos were uploading upside down. Not questioning whether 5-10% of their audience were filming incorrectly, they took a look into the matter from their end and came to a startling conclusion!

They forgot to cater the app for left-handed people!

It’s such a small thing that many app developers don’t consider, but actually leaves a giant hole in your consumer market. As this is a worldwide app, around 12% of the population (900,000,000 people to be exact at the time of writing) would experience this issue – not good!

Google quickly identified where they had gone wrong and sorted out the issue, but they realised the reason they had come to that decision – their developer team was almost all right-handed.

Luckily Google took a lesson from it, and now provided Unconscious Bias training to all of their staff. But even something as small as right-handed and left-handed employees can make the difference!

Not every company is as big as Google and can provide their own in-house training. That’s where we can help. We’ve been providing training for almost 30 years, and have developed bespoke Unconscious Bias training that could work for you. Get in touch with us today for bespoke Unconscious Bias training solutions!