Sharon Youmans, PharmD, MPH, Vice Dean and Professor, School of Pharmacy on individual strategies to address unconscious bias.

Unconscious biases are difficult to change... but not impossible. Research suggests that there are actions we can take and techniques we can utilize to minimize the impact of unconscious bias on our thoughts and behaviors.

When we think about methods to address unconscious bias, we must consider strategies at the individual AND the institutional level.

Some examples of strategies one can use to address unconscious bias at the individual level include:

Education: By exploring our website and learning about unconscious bias, you have taken the first step to addressing some of your biases. I encourage you to consider participating in an unconscious bias training program to learn more about the origins and consequences of biases and strategies to address bias.

The UCSF Office of Diversity and Outreach offers in-person training programs to members of the UCSF community. Please refer to the “Resources” section of our website to learn more.

In addition to education, enhanced self-awareness is a powerful tool to address unconscious bias. Recognizing YOUR biases towards a particular group is yet another step you can take to minimizing the impact of bias on your actions and behaviors.

You should take the online Implicit Association Test or I.A.T if you haven’t already done so. The IAT is a valuable tool individuals can use to learn more about one’s biases. The “Strategies to Assess Unconscious Bias” section of our website includes more information on the IAT and a link to the test.

Lastly, expansion of one’s social network to include members of diverse groups can be valuable in countering the effects of unconscious bias. Engaging in discussions with colleagues from diverse groups or volunteering in a community that’s socially dissimilar to yours can lead to a greater appreciation and perhaps minimize the impact of unconscious bias on others.

The examples I’ve provided are just a few of many strategies you can use to reduce the impact of unconscious bias. This section of our website includes other strategies-feel free to explore to learn more.

Additionally, please refer to the “Institutional Strategies to Address Unconscious Bias” section of our website to learn how to address unconscious bias at the institutional level.