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More than half of HR professionals are biased against overweight women, while nearly two fifths are biased against men, according to a survey conducted exclusively for People Management.Special bias tests were taken by 122 HR professionals to measure their unconscious prejudices in a range of common areas such as age, gender, weight and disability. The tests, designed by specialist provider Hogrefe Implicity, revealed that almost 40 per cent of those surveyed showed a preference for one gender (overwhelmingly, they were in favour of women). The tests, which assess unwitting associations of gender and competence, found that men were the losers with 37 per cent of respondents revealing a bias against them. Yet only 1 per cent showed a prejudice against women.However, when asked about overweight women, 51 per cent of respondents revealed a bias against them at a level “likely or very likely” to affect their behaviour. Yet only 4 per cent showed a bias against “slimmer women”. The strength of men’s prejudice against other men was surprising, with 15.6 per cent of men showing an anti-male bias compared to just 0.5 per cent of women showing an anti-female stance. Perhaps most unexpectedly, 7 per cent of respondents showed a bias against people without disabilities and despite the huge success of the London 2012 Paralympics nearly a quarter showed a strong or very strong prejudice against people with a disability.The results did reveal some good news with nearly three-quarters of those tested showing no bias regarding age. However where there was prejudice, older people fared worst with 5 per cent of participants revealing strong biases against them, while only 1 per cent were prejudiced against young people (where older was described as “looks over 55” and younger was “looks under 25”). Experts told PM that unconscious bias is part of the human condition as people are influenced by life experiences, the society we live in and the media images we are exposed to. Human brains are hardwired to categorise and subconsciously make judgements about the people in these categories, even if this is in complete contradiction to consciously held beliefs.Dr Pete Jones, psychologist and author of the Implicitly test, told PM: “It’s an annoying fact that you don’t have to believe in a stereotype to be influenced by it. I’m a fat white bloke and I know that lots of people think that fat, white blokes are sexist and racist. If they know I’m an ex-policeman, that makes it even worse. “The problem is that the mental resources I am using in worrying about how people might see me are the same resources I need for whatever task I am doing, and for my own bias control.”Dianah Worman, diversity adviser at the CIPD, explained: “We all carry around baggage. Getting people to understand that, and what their particular biases might be, is really helpful. "Yes, it can be quite challenging at a personal level – but it’s absolutely pivotal that HR professionals get this.”
Think you're not biased? Then take PM’s quick self- test and find out…Read the full length feature 'You're biased' in PM's newly relaunched magazine.Join the debate on Twitter (@peoplemgt #bias #relaunchPM #selftest #HR) and in PM's LinkedIn group.
It states that 37 percent of respondents are biased against men. Then it say they went out of their way to ask about overweight women and found 51% of respondents were biased against them.<br/><br/>Then, for reasons uknown (I'm guessing a deliberate attempt to play up women), they, apparently, did not ask about overweight men. Doesn't it make common sense, given that men on average are more discriminated against, to ask about overweight men too to find out just how bad they have it? Of course it does. But, alas, that would have taken some of the thunder away from the only accepted narrative, "women are the ones oppressed". <br/><br/>I also find it very curious that they put how many male respondents are biased against males but they did not put how many female respondents. It says that 15% of male respondents were biased against men but 37% of overall respondents were biased against males. That suggest a HIGH percentage of female respondents biased against males.
Yea, if I was discriminating against people I’d probably want to cover up the real reason for doing it too!<br/><br/>The biggest losers are the ones who continue to discriminate on the basis of what they think they know about candidates. We regularly remind ourselves that Simon Cowell caught himself just in time. His big money spinning relationship with Susan is history. <br/><br/>Quite right nora - it already is being written about year in, year out. just one merry go round chosing one characteristic after another.
"....its pivotal that HR professional get this."<br/>Here in Malaysia, I'd bring this bias issue up one level - Head scarf or Hijab. almost like a 'damn if you do, and damn if you dont' situation. <br/><br/>Personally, this is not just about "getting it" Its about managing ones personal preference over professional achievement slash abilities! HR professionals should SERIOUSLY consider some 'personal preference management' courses, somewhat, or this will be an issue you guys would be writing about, year in/out.