Unconscious bias carries heavy social, emotional, and even economic costs. But the stereotypes and ideas that fuel these consequences are just that—ideas, not facts.
In this seven-minute video, Anu Gupta, founder and CEO of BE MORE with Anu, explores what we can collectively gain by facing our unconscious biases.
What We Gain by Recognizing Our Biases
1. We can be truly present with one another.
“There is nothing inherent about bias.” Gupta says. No one is born thinking that certain skin colors, social classes, or genders equate to attractiveness, worthiness, or success. It is, instead, the media we consume, the people and culture surrounding us, and the stereotypes we accept as true that wrongfully shape the ideas we have about other people.
“People aren’t seeing one another. We aren’t seeing one another. We’re seeing ideas of one another.” Gupta says. In order for us to move toward a world where we are truly present with the people around us, as they really are—not mixed up in the ideas we craft—we must each acknowledge our unconscious biases.
2. We can close the wage gaps, and address other inequities.
The most important reason to close wage gaps is that it’s the ethically right thing to do, and would combat poverty on a huge scale. According to a 2013 study by the Kellogg Foundation, “if people of color were compensated the same as non-people of color, they would collectively earn a trillion dollars more.” It’s also the most economical course of action: A more recent study by the Kellogg Foundation found that by 2050, the United States could gain $8 trillion in GDP by closing the racial equity gap.
Evidently, this shift toward racial equity “would transform our economy, our nation, our future,” says Gupta. “Bias is holding our collective progress hostage.”
3. We can strengthen our ability to notice discrepancies in our systems—and act accordingly.
Gupta worked with a doctor who began noticing anomalies in the quality of care that his patients were receiving. Gupta says, “Black patients were routinely receiving lower doses of pain medication. Diabetic Latinx patients were more likely to be recommended for amputations.” These discrepancies are based on longstanding racist ideas within the healthcare system that continue to harm non-white patients.
Once this doctor and his team took measurable steps to reduce their biases, they were able to improve patient care and employee engagement. Over time, Gupta says, this hospital saw fewer misdiagnoses and repeat visits, and greatly improved all-around outcomes.
“Breaking bias saves lives,” Gupta says. Not only can we begin to heal the collective pain caused by inequality, we can all experience better lives from recognizing and letting go of harmful stereotypes. It must start with our individual choices, which will ripple out to benefit all those we share our communities with.