People typically have a set of biases that they hold to, whether they acknowledge them or not. These can influence all areas of their life, and they’re typically rooted well back in their past. These are things they were taught or learned as they grew up.
When they do know about their biases, people may attempt to hide them. A boss who is biased against members of a certain race may work extra hard to always be kind and friendly in person, for instance. But when you look at who they tend to promote or who gets raises most often, it’s clear that they favor others who are not part of that race. It’s not as overt as it may have been in the past, but that bias still exists.
Can telling them help?
For those who do not even realize that they’re biased, you may assume that you just need to tell them about it. People are often unaware of their own implicit biases, and it seems like raising awareness could change their behavior.
That said, experts have argued that telling people about these biases does not usually bring about change. They may resist that change. They may well claim that they’re not, in fact, biased in exactly the ways that you can see that they are biased. They may double-down on trying to hide these issues, rather than making any changes.
What can you do?
If you’re an employee and you’re being discriminated against by someone who either hides their biases or denies that they exist, your rights are still being violated. You need to know exactly what options you have.