The Threat of the Unconscious Bias

October 19, 2016 in
By FMP Staff

Our workplaces are more diverse than ever before. As this happens, prejudice is becoming more subtle, ambiguous, and difficult to observe, as employees understand it is not productive to partake in overt discrimination. In fact, unconscious bias occurs at a higher frequency than overt discrimination. It is troubling that, despite typically not being malicious in nature, our unconscious bias still imparts damage to organizational and individual functioning.

Unconscious bias leads to increased turnover and decreased job performance and satisfaction. Yet, in team-based and collaborative work environments, our bias divides and separates teams by putting members into subgroups based on characteristics such as background, demographics, and experience. This often leads to team failure as team success relies on effective and supportive employee interactions.

Implementing the strategies below, your organization can begin to reduce the occurrence and impact of unconscious bias and the fault lines they create.


  • Educate all employees on the recognition of various biases and the impact that they have in the workplace
  • Encourage employees to practice self-observation and constructive uncertainty (e.g., challenge assumptions)

Relational Management

  • Encourage employees and team members to adopt new values, attitudes, and goals that are free from biases

Process Adjustment

  • Adjust workflow and processes to encourage open collaboration across the organization to mitigate bias

Contact FMP Consulting to discuss customizing our Combatting Unconscious Bias training program to fit your organization’s needs.


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Dovidio, J.F., Gaertner, S.L., Kawakani, K., & Hodson, G. (2002). Why can’t we all just get along? Interpersonal biases and interracial distrust. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 8, 88-102

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Jones, K., Peddie, C., Gilrane, V., King, E., & Gray, A. (2016). Not so subtle: A meta-analytic investigation of the correlates of subtle and overt discrimination. Journal of Management, 42, 1588-1613.

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