Implicit Bias

By: Kim Theobald, Director of Human Resources

Kim Theobald

Director of HR Consulting

Implicit Bias

You have likely heard about the Starbucks bias training that recently took place in stores across the country. The company felt it was necessary to implement this training for employees after a recent incident at a Starbucks location where two men were wrongfully criminalized. This initial training is just the first step in a long-term plan that Starbucks is unfolding to combat discrimination. The training focused on “implicit bias,” which is defined as our unconscious beliefs or attitudes towards individuals based on their social class, race, gender, or other personal attributes. This bias affects our understanding, actions, and decisions, both at work and in our lives in general. Helping employees become aware of implicit bias can be beneficial to all companies in their internal and external relationships.

Whether we recognize it or not, some sort of implicit bias exists within all of us as human beings. We can start to heighten our awareness by better understanding the types of implicit bias that exist.

  • Affinity bias – This occurs when we are drawn to others who we feel are like us or share similar interests.
  • Confirmation bias – We tend to see things in ways that confirm our existing beliefs.
  • Perception bias – When our views of others are a reflection of how we perceive reality.

Looking at each type of bias in terms of the work environment, you can see how it may influence decision making. Bias can play a role in decisions including hiring, promotions, compensation, and more. When an environment exists where certain people are favored over others, there is a negative impact on employee productivity and engagement. Therefore, it is important for companies to train individuals on implicit bias.

Initial training should bring awareness and understanding to the existence of implicit bias. Once employees understand and can recognize it, they’ll be able to start a dialogue. Having a dialogue about issues like this can be an important part of developing a culture where employees feel comfortable expressing themselves on issues of bias and more. Research suggests that bias can be overridden with deliberate effort. These efforts could include reframing conversations, collaborative programs, and focus on skill-based training. Companies can also implement programs to increase diversity and promote inclusiveness.

For more information on this and other HR-related topics, please contact Clearview’s Human Resources Consulting team at, or call 410-415-9700.

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