Mr. X interviewed Ms. Y for a leadership role. He was impressed with her confidence and intelligence. He concluded the interview with these words, “Ms. Y. we are keen to have you onboard.”
Ms. Y smiled: “Thank you very much, Mr. X.” And then Mr. X continued: “In any case, it’ll be great to have the fairer gender make decisions shoulder-to-shoulder with the men in the top rungs.”
Ms. Y cringed in her seat.
What just happened? Mr. X was visibly impressed with Ms. Y. He was impressed with her intelligence. He believed her presence would make the organization’s decision-making more effective. The recruitment for leadership roles had a strong commitment to diversity. When he referred to Ms. Y as “the fairer gender”, he didn’t say it with a bad intention, nor was he unaware that men could also be fair.
So why did he refer to Ms. Y as the fairer gender giving irrelevant attention to her sex and complexion? The answer is simple. Without even realizing it, Mr. X harbored an unconscious bias.
What’s the consequence?
Mr. X’s unconscious bias will get in the way of his good intentions and keep him from building an authentic relationship with Ms. Y who he perceives as different from him.