Unconscious biases are not permanent. In fact, they are malleable and steps can be taken to limit their impact on our thoughts and behaviors (Dasgupta, 2013).

When considering strategies to address unconscious bias one must consider individual and institutional strategies.

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

Individual strategies to address unconscious bias include:
  • Promoting self-awareness: recognizing one’s biases using the Implicit Association Test (or other instruments to assess bias) is the first step.
  • Understanding the nature of bias is also essential. The strategy of categorization that gives rise to unconscious bias is a normal aspect of human cognition. Understanding this important concept can help individuals approach their own biases in a more informed and open way (Burgess, 2007).
  • Opportunities to have discussions, with others (especially those from socially dissimilar groups) can also be helpful. Sharing your biases can help others feel more secure about exploring their own biases. It’s important to have these conversations in a safe space-individuals must be open to alternative perspectives and viewpoints.
  • Facilitated discussions and training sessions promoting bias literacy utilizing the concepts and techniques listed about have been proven effective in minimizing bias. Evidence suggests that providing unconscious bias training for faculty members reduces the impact of bias in the workplace (Carnes, 2012).

Elizabeth Ozer, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics, Adolescent Medicine on institutional strategies to address unconscious bias. (Transcript)

Institutional Strategies

All institutions should:
  • Develop concrete, objective indicators & outcomes for hiring, evaluation, and promotion to reduce standard stereotypes (Fiske & Taylor, 1991; Heilman, 2001; Bernat & Manis, 1994)
  • Develop standardized criteria to assess the impact of individual contributions in performance evaluations (Heilman & Haynes, 2005)
  • Develop and utilize structured interviews and develop objective evaluation criteria for hiring (Martell & Guzzo, 1991; Heilman, 2001)
  • Provide unconscious bias training workshops for all constituents