Perception & Biases in the Workplace

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Employees on the receiving end of certain perceptions and biases in the workplace may display low motivation and may be more likely to leave their jobs in favor of more accepting environments. Companies that allow bias and discrimination might experience low productivity, high employee turnover rates and frequent absenteeism.

Sexism

Sexism is a form of bias based on a person's gender and sexuality. It occurs when you perceive that a person will behave in a certain way because of the person's gender. For example, men who apply for jobs as secretaries, accountants and cashiers may receive negative responses because of the perception that women are more proficient in these jobs. Sometimes sexism brings double standards, and employers may judge a man based on his potential, while they may judge a woman by her achievements, according to The Center for Work Life Law.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation also presents perception and bias issues in the workplace. In a 2007 research study, "Bias in the Workplace: Consistent Evidence of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination," researchers from the Williams Institute reported that homosexuals and transgendered employees reported experiences of discrimination in the workplace, and many heterosexual coworkers report witnessing such discrimination. The report further notes that many gay employees earn lower salaries than heterosexual employees with the same qualifications. Further, employees are often bypassed for promotions because of their sexual orientation.

Age

Many people over a certain age can be targets of age bias, regardless of their competency, work ethic and experience, and concept of company loyalty. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in 2008 age discrimination charges surged 29 percent over the previous year. Older workers may experience teasing about their age and employers may encourage older workers to retire. Some companies may establish inadequate retirement plans and favor younger employees for raises and opportunities.

Race and Ethnicity

Racial bias occurs when you perceive that employees will succeed or fail at a given skill because of their race. Racial jokes and innuendos can affect team building and employee performance. Ignoring diverse viewpoints and tolerating disrespectful behavior toward racial groups can leave the targeted employees feeling excluded and harassed. Perceptions and biases regarding race are not pertinent to just one group of people; perpetrators target various groups based on the group's race or ethnicity.

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