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How to Combat Unconscious Bias

Dr. Marlene Fuller of Citizens Bank talks about how to identify unconscious bias and how to combat bias in our own lives.



We all have unconscious bias.

According to Dr. Marlene Fuller, "We all have unconscious biases. There are things we do that are automatic. They're shaped by our preferences and experiences. But, they can hurt."

In order to begin combatting those biases, we first need to acknowledge we have them. Having them doesn’t make you an inherently bad person. That’s really important to remember.

Dr. Fuller adds, “There are some things that people do or don't do simply because they're just not aware. They're not aware of how what they may say could impact someone or invalidate someone. So I spend a great deal of time trying to build cultural awareness.”


How can you combat unconscious bias in the workplace? Empathy is key.

“[Make] sure that people know that they have the invitation to be a part of safe conversations," Fuller says. "In that way, people can hear how regular people they know have experienced unconscious bias and how hurtful that's been. It builds empathy for the situation. And for that person who now is brave enough to sit in that seat, they now have an empathetic community. They have a new system of allies. So a big part of connecting is about inviting people into a space and then leaving room for people to grow together.”


Dr. Fuller's 4 steps for building awareness and empathy:

  • Declare yourself an ally

  • Be open to learning and growing

  • Listen without judgment

  • Rally people together for authentic and connecting conversations


This is hard work, but it is also really important for D&I initiatives, Dr. Fuller adds.