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Creating inclusive organisations

Unconscious bias and higher education

Unconscious bias and higher education

This report is intended to help higher education institutions (HEIs) understand unconscious bias, and discover how to reduce its impact, with particular reference to staff selection and recruitment.

Unconscious bias is a term used to describe the associations that we hold which, despite being outside our conscious awareness, can have a significant influence on our attitudes and behaviour. Regardless of how fair minded we believe ourselves to be, most people have some degree of unconscious bias. The means that we automatically respond to others (eg people from different racial or ethnic groups) in positive or negative ways. These associations are difficult to override, regardless of whether we recognise them to be wrong, because they are deeply ingrained into our thinking and emotions.

Acknowledging and taking responsibility for unconscious bias is not just a moral imperative, it is also financially and reputationally important. For HEIs, making biased decisions affects the recruitment and selection of staff and students, and the ability of those staff and students to achieve their full potential.

Download the publication from Advance HE