What are your biases? We can think we don’t have them, but we definitely do.
It seems that we’ve never been in a more divergent, divisive space in our country. “Can’t we all just get along?” seems to be a Utopian thought/question at this point. Discrimination and bias continue to permeate various aspects of society, from workplaces to communities, often perpetuating a divisive culture that hinders progress and unity. Thankfully there is a rising awareness and focus on equality and inclusion, even if it’s not yet in practice.
To foster a more equitable and inclusive society, we must address our unconscious biases, those we are not even aware of, and challenge the status quo.
The Unseen Forces of Unconscious Biases
Unconscious biases are the deeply ingrained attitudes and stereotypes we hold toward certain groups of people, often formed without our conscious awareness. These biases are shaped by our upbringing, cultural influences, and societal norms, and they can have a profound impact on our perceptions and decisions. Unconsciously, we may harbor prejudices related to gender, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, body shape and more. The danger lies in the fact that these biases can influence our actions, leading to discrimination, unequal opportunities, and reinforcing systemic inequalities.
The Perpetuation of the Divisive Status Quo
The status quo often perpetuates divisive cultures by maintaining the unequal distribution of power and opportunities. This happens when individuals, organizations, and institutions are not conscious of their biases or choose to ignore them. As a result, marginalized groups face barriers to access, leadership, and representation, creating a cycle of disadvantage that is difficult to break. By not addressing unconscious biases and the status quo, we perpetuate a society in which discrimination and inequality persist.
Becoming Aware of Unconscious Biases
To promote equality and inclusion, we must become more aware of our unconscious biases and work toward eradicating them. Here are some thoughts on where we can start:
- Take the time for self-reflection: Examine our own beliefs and attitudes. Ask ourselves what we think and be honest. We might be surprised.
- Education and awareness: Actively seek out information and resources that shed light on different cultures, perspectives, and experiences.
- Engage in open conversations: Encourage dialogue about bias and inclusion in our workplaces, communities, and personal relationships.
- Implicit training: Many organizations offer training programs designed to help individuals recognize and address unconscious biases and make changes.
- Diverse exposure: Expand our social and professional circles to include people from different backgrounds.
- Seek feedback: Ask for feedback from trusted friends, colleagues, or mentors to gain insights into our own biases. Be open to constructive criticism and be willing to change. And ask those of different backgrounds if our thoughts are accurate or what they would have us know about their experience.
- Empathy: HSPs tend to be pretty good at putting ourselves in others’ shoes, but we need to try to understand their experiences and challenges without judgment, assumptions and expectations. What’s it like to be in their situation, in this moment?
- Regular self-assessment: Continuously assess our thoughts, actions, and decisions to ensure they are free from bias. This is an ongoing process.
The Path to a More Inclusive Society
Equality and inclusion are not mere buzzwords but a call to action for every individual. We can work toward a more equitable society where everyone has an equal chance to succeed, and making conscious our unconscious tendencies will facilitate this. As we unmask our own biases and encourage others to do the same, we can collectively build a more just and harmonious world, something Highly Sensing people tend to crave. Change begins with self-awareness and the commitment to be part of the solution.