Last week I walked into my local pharmacy and was greeted by a young Asian man and I immediately started asking him very specific questions and he interrupted me and politely said ‘Sorry I’m not the pharmacist, I’m a pharmacy assistant but I’m sure the pharmacist would be able to help you‘. I was so embarrassed and apologized but he very politely said ‘No worries, it happens all the time, everyone thinks I am the pharmacist‘.
What he didn’t say but was implied was ‘…because I’m male & Asian’. Sexist, racist, me? Couldn’t be! Classic case of unconscious bias on my part and for a lot of their customers. Unconscious bias is where we are not even aware of the biases we have. Everyone has their unconscious biases, and in leadership unconscious bias can seriously impact communication, decisions, judgment, performance and results.
But there is hope. As journalist Fiona Smith in a recent BRW article states ‘The point is we are all biased, but as intelligent, thinking people it is incumbent on us to question our responses and decisions to ensure we do the right thing’.
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