Diversity is the fuel of innovation. It fosters creativity and collaboration and enables us to create a better world. Equality is the key to create a diverse workforce, with different ideas and points of view. But sometimes cognitive biases trick our brain.
The brain uses mental shortcuts to reduce uncertainty and fill information to produce decisions or judgments. This causes cognitive biases, an error in thinking, in the sense that a judgment deviates from what would be considered desirable or correct. In the case of stereotypes, for example, one assumes that a stereotype is true for each individual person in the category.
We analyse our world by putting our observations through a number of filters manufactured by our experiences. A very simple example: I have a stimulus (someone gives me a pink towel), this stimulus provokes a cognition (pink is a girls’ colour because baby girls historically wear in pink), the cognition provokes an emotion (I hate pink) and this emotion is a behavioural response (I do not use pink towels). We often think we are consciously in control of our thoughts and behaviour but sometimes our unconscious thoughts are in control of us.
Columbia University psychologists G. Elliott Wimmer and Daphna Shohamy studied 28 people complete a series of three tasks while in a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) machine. They provided insight into how people are biased by past experiences to make new decisions. Networks of associations in memory, formed across many different experiences, can result in the formation of perceived ideas and stereotypes.
Unconscious bias is now acknowledged by psychologists and neuroscientists as real and measurable. At everis we understand the nature of unconscious bias and work to foster positive responses to diversity and equity. We have designed our everis Is Diversity Plan working from two different approaches:
- Cognitive behavioural approach: To deeply understand the impact of stereotypes and neutralize them by knowing ourselves and how cognitive biases are flawed. This allows us to challenge ourselves, to choose what we want to be, and to dare to change and reinvent ourselves with every vital moment. A positive mindset to lead ourselves.
2. Awareness approach: To raise awareness of diverse mindsets because we are all unique, different and have different motivations, expectations and needs.
Brain's Unconscious Bias Sways Decisions