Ruchika Tulshyan is author of The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality in the Workplace and founder of the inclusion strategy firm Candour. She suggests the way to alter those innate behavioural patterns is to ‘move from a fixed mindset – the belief that we’re already doing the best we possibly can to build representative teams – to one of openness and growth.’ The first step: accepting that you have biases and tackling them head on.

The main types of bias 

Even if you don’t actively think about gender, age or looks, it’s common to subconsciously select or reject people based on identity. Here are some widely recognised forms of bias:

1. Affinity bias

The tendency to connect with, hire and promote those with similar interests, experience or background to yourself – this is ‘one of the most common’, according to Ruchika.

2. Conformity bias 

Acting similarly, or conforming, to those around you, regardless of your own views. 

3. Confirmation bias 

Actively looking for evidence that backs up preconceived ideas about someone.

4. Name bias 

The tendency to prefer certain types of name (eg Anglo-Saxon). 

5. Halo/horns effect

Viewing someone positively or negatively based on one thing you learn about them. 

6. Attribution bias 

Judging someone’s behaviour on your previous observations or interactions with them.

7. Contrast effect

Comparing one person to another after coming into contact with them in close proximity.

...and how to tackle them

Here are three books Ruchika recommends on the topic of bias:

Superior and Inferior by Angela Saini

The Person You Mean to Be by Dolly Chugh

How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi 

This article was first published in Courier Issue 37, October/November 2020. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

You might like these, too