By Suited

Six mindful steps to curb implicit bias

For Firms
For Firms

Six mindful steps to curb implicit bias

By Suited

Implicit bias is the unconscious associations of specific traits with members of a demographic group that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions without our awareness or intentional control.

Decades of research have shown us that stereotypes unconsciously influence perceptions and evaluations, a process that is central to employment decisions such as hiring. In hiring and recruiting, allowing implicit or unconscious biases about a candidate to take hold can have seriously negative ramifications for both your firm and the candidate.

The effects of bias

When we assign traits to people without any valid information, we are participating in a biased system that often works against already marginalized groups. Studies have well documented that in evaluating members of a stereotyped group, our biases can even cause us to interpret ambiguous information to confirm stereotypes.

When those in charge of hiring decisions assume traits or tendencies about a candidate that may not be accurate, this can cause firms to miss out on high potential talent. The goal with reducing bias, beyond being fairer to the candidates, is to be data-driven, eliminate assumptions, and ensure you hire the objectively best candidate for the role.

How to mitigate bias

Implicit bias is a natural occurrence that takes deliberate effort to mitigate, as it is a difficult process to reduce a belief or tendency that has been shaped beneath the surface. And while there are no quick fixes to mitigating the biases that exist in all of us, there are some simple practices that can help your state of mind when making important hiring decisions. Fundamentally, all of these tips are based in mindfulness — the idea that by simply becoming aware of our tendencies and using intentional thought exercises, we can interrupt our biases before they take hold of a particular outcome.


Be aware that we each have biases that have power over our decision-making. Knowing this provides the opportunity to pause, question, and reassess our decisions so we can strive for objectivity.


Consider why you have a negative or positive reaction to the information presented. This can be a sign that a strongly ingrained bias is at play.


Exercise neutrality by comparing your reactions to feedback from members of majority and minority groups.


Try not to make hiring decisions single-handedly. A diverse team, even a small one, can help identify unconscious biases in the process.


To the extent possible, take the time necessary to make a diligent hiring decision. Haste and distractions make for unnecessary negative impacts and decisions making.


Keep in mind that any one piece of information is just a part of the whole. You shouldn’t make screening/hiring decisions based on any one piece of information.