Understanding Implicit Bias

Recently we have seen several instances of racial injustice in the United States. These tragic events became the tipping point for the anti-racist movement, spawning protests and marches in every state in the United States, and in many countries worldwide.

During this time, while many of us became more aware of our friends, neighbors, colleagues or family who have personally experienced various forms of injustice in their lives — racial and other forms — it can be difficult to fully understand the prevalence and deep impact of injustice in day-to-day life.

There’s been a lot of talk about the need for change. But how?

A good place to start is with ourselves. We need to consider our own feelings and preconceived notions that may affect how we treat or respond to others. Everyone experiences bias to some extent, even unconsciously. This is what’s called “implicit bias.”

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner. Our implicit biases often cause us to favor our in-group over those who have characteristics that differ from ours.

Learning about our own implicit bias can be an eye opening experience, so we’ve collected some information to help you better understand the concept, along with a short test you can take to measure your implicit bias across a wide range of characteristics. These include gender, age, religion, sexuality, weight and gender science (the link between liberal arts and females and between science and males), among others.

Understanding our own implicit biases

This in-depth article provides a wide range of tools and resources to help all of us understand implicit bias.


Impact Bias Video Series

The UCLA office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion created a series of seven videos, all six-minutes or less, which help deepen understanding of biases, their real-world consequences, and steps we can take countermeasure them. 

Preface: Biases and Heuristics (5:14)

Lesson 1: Schemas (3:12)

Lesson 2: Attitudes and Stereotypes (4:13)

Lesson 3: Real World Consequences (3:45)

Lesson 4: Explicit v. Implicit Bias (2:49)

Lesson 5: The IAT (5:14)

Lesson 6: Countermeasures (5:23)

Implicit Association Test

This is a test created by Harvard University’s Project Implicit, which is designed to measure your associations between concepts and stereotypes. Each test takes about 15 minutes to complete, and they test you on biases related to weight, gender, disability, race, sexuality, age, and more.

Ready to take the Implicit Association Test? 

Listening, learning and talking

Understanding our own possible biases and the causes of them is a good place to start. Listening to stories of those whose life experiences are different from ours helps build empathy and deepens our understanding of the challenges they face in their lives. These are not comfortable conversations for most people to have, but to create lasting change we must commit to the work of sharing and learning.

Within our own organization, we foster a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion, and we know we can do more. Many of our Brands and companies are taking a closer look at their existing diversity and inclusion programs and finding ways to enhance them. It is our goal for all of our team members to value and respect our differences because we know our differences make us better, and strengthen the fabric of our organization.