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5 Things to Know About Unconscious Bias for Small Business Success

carbon literacy dei esg strategy sustainability Mar 18, 2024

Insights from McKinsey demonstrate that businesses that embrace diversity tend to outperform their competitors significantly.

This revelation highlights the critical role that understanding and addressing unconscious bias plays in the success of small businesses.

Unconscious biases are the automatic, subconscious judgments that influence our daily decision-making.

Despite the rapid processing of information by our brains, leading to decisions made without full awareness, these biases can adversely affect business outcomes.

Every one of us holds biases and prejudices, often unnoticed by ourselves and others. While many acknowledge the existence of such biases, overcoming them is a considerable challenge, essential for creating a startup or small business that has an inclusive culture and free from discrimination.

We asked Vanessa Belleau, an experienced Business Strategist and Diversity, Equality & Inclusion (DE&I) Consultant and founder of High Fifteen, to share five actionable steps for small business owners who want to tackle these biases effectively.



5 Things to Know About Unconscious Bias for Small Business Success

  1. Reflect on Your Motivation: Engaging in conversations about unconscious bias should stem from a genuine desire to create a more equal society. This authentic intention is crucial for achieving meaningful outcomes.

  2. Comprehend Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging: Diversity is akin to receiving an invitation to a function, while inclusion is about being asked to dance. Belonging, as described by Anita Sands, is a fundamental human need that transcends languages and cultures, representing a sentiment that everyone seeks.

  3. Commit to Transparency: Given the multitude of biases (over 150) to be addressed, facing your unconscious beliefs may lead to discomfort. It's essential to approach these challenges with total honesty and seek advice from experienced professionals, as the implications for businesses can be significant.

  4. Be Patient: Unraveling biases that have been built up over generations takes time. It's important to reflect on what you currently understand, make gradual progress, and forgive yourself for past and future mistakes, acknowledging that nobody is perfect.

  5. Refrain from Premature Declarations: Comprehensive efforts are required to effectively challenge unconscious bias. Before making any public statements, ensure you have a deep understanding of your biases and know where gaps in your knowledge may lie. Only then can sustainable changes be implemented into your business strategy.

Addressing unconscious bias in your startup or small business creates a strategic advantage and creates a foundation for sustainable success.

By following Vanessa's recommendations, you can create a more inclusive, diverse, and ultimately inspiring business. 

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