Unconscious BIAS

Oct 12, 2021

Unconscious BIAS is the new buzzword in the western management world and it is often credited to have been first talked about in a management study by Prof Anthony Greenwald (of the AIT test for Unconscious Bias fame) and possibly an Indian-origin professor Prof Mahzarin Banaji. THERE! My bias is showing already. The name is clearly Persian but am I secretly proud in assuming it is an Indian of Parsee origin? It is not possible to work without assumptions but Self-Awareness is all about checking out your biases and assumptions.

Getting on with the story, in a book in 1995 these two social psychologists argued that every individual has a series or layers of mental beliefs based on biases that affected, gender, class, racial and ethnic groups that politically divided people and

caused social changes that even led to a tipping point as an outbreak of violence like the recent BLM Movement asserting that Black Lives Matter.

Based on the work of Swami Chinmayananda whom I have followed as my early life influence, this theory is based on the ancient Indic Wisdom Traditions.  Advaita Vedanta explains Unconscious Bias linked to two words Raga and Dvesha or LIKES and DISLIKES that we seem to be born with which create an unknown attraction or repulsion towards people,things or events. These shape our experiences for life but it’s only based on common sense about Cause and Effects that every experience creates a Like or a Dislike of varying degrees. These in turn create a TENDENCY or ‘Vasana’ for or against repeating the experience – of running after or away from things or

beings we like or dislike based on attitude. For a good example, the first mango of the year gives so much joy, born of exciting anticipation but the 11th or 21st mango of the day may create even  revulsion maybe if forced upon us.

How does it affect the most important part of an organisation or a nation, especially in a democracy like India, America, Japan or in Australia? For that matter, even in dictatorial leadership, such deep biases exist even more since never expressed out of fear. Everybody has freedom on how to respond to the challenges of change but very few in the world actually use these opportunities with free will.

The future is affected more in terms of the destiny of a nation in democracy as leaders are discarded or rejected by democracies often by the unconscious

bias planted in the minds at the strategically perfect time before the electoral process. You have to believe that a leader cannot control results or “call all the shots” but rational, logical action will definitely work in swinging unconscious bias in the minds of people towards a leadership style or against it.

This is where Daniel Goleman comes in with his Emotional intelligence Framework. The first step to Emotional intelligence is SELF AWARENESS or the ability to be aware of oneself to stay in the moment and even be aware of one’s unconscious bias in meeting a situation, however favourable or unfavourable. Now comes our skill in becoming Self Aware of every moment, divided into three levels of experience from gross to subtle, called the ‘B-M-I’ Model, created by Swami Chinmayananda, based on the Body (B)

the Mind (M) and the Intellect (I). The outermost body with the five sense organs and the sense objects of the world around you, are easy to see but difficult to control. They in fact, seem to dominate and enslave the mind.

Hence, the next step is the way you deal with your emotional intelligence and then work on the Head and Heart as in logic and emotions working in harmony and  interdependence. About the natural question of head ruling over heart or heart over the head, if you are emotionally swayed in making decisions, it can enslave you for life. When your heart knows what your head wants and seeks a WIN-WIN, you are led intelligently by your head. A good leader manages to align with a perfect blend of the head, the heart and the hand to think and feel and act in harmony. Great leadership is about one’s

thoughts, feelings and actions all in one alignment.  When you think one way

 but feel another way because of pressure from the outside and do something else altogether, it reveals a  disintegrated personality. Strong leaders are so integrated because they have a intuitive mix of the head the heart. Hence, the hand acting in accordance to the head and heart is not so challenged by the chaos created by constant change around them.

Hope you like what I write but then doesn’t it make you biased? This is one case of unconscious bias that I welcome heartily! Good Bye Bias! Welcome Self-Awareness! Check out your biases. Challenge your assumptions.


930cookie-checkUnconscious BIAS