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Unconscious Bias: Guilt Driven v Fairness-Driven Corporate Solutions

by | Mar 9, 2021

“This is not about guilt or innocence. The point is, it’s time to turn a page” 

Charlie Luken
In my experience, when it comes to the touchy subject of unconscious bias, individuals and organisations tend to wallow in either Guilt, Resentment or Atonement as a way of coping with or addressing unconscious bias in the workplace. The guilty perpetrator versus hapless victim paradigm is unhelpful at best and, in the long run, can entrench exactly the attitudes and behaviours we are all trying to change.

Let’s be clear exactly what we are talking about: unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people -usually minorities- that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. It leads to seemingly informed decisions and micro-agressions, that have negative repercussions for the ‘subject’ of unconscious bias. Unconscious bias also has a close cousin; ‘Reverse Bias’. This happens when the ‘subject’ senses or anticipates a stereotyped negative response. In that mental state, she or he can understandably, misinterpret unfavourable actions or decisions negatively when in fact there is another explanation.

Let’s take a look at why it doesn’t make any sense to hold on to Guilt, Resentment or Atonement; why these approaches are not suitable platforms for promoting the kind of change we all want and need.

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