As social workers, we encounter several challenges as we carry out various duties in our careers. Some of the challenges we encounter are as a result of external forces such as agency protocols, local policies, and patient’s rare life incidents that are sometimes beyond our control. Though, some challenges emerge from our own internal experience as we network with patient systems. Some of the internal challenges social workers’ encounters comprise of personal bias. According to Maynard (2018), personal bias is the tendency to lean in one direction of thinking. Everybody has personal biases on how they perceive and interrelate with the world around them. Individual personal experiences are influenced by one life experiences such as ethical or moral belief system, cultural background and worldview, and the context in which one was raised.
I decided to join the field of social work to offer help to the patient with mental health issues and handle the community concerns that may impact their present condition. Though eager, I was thrilled to realize I had been assigned to an agency that would let me work with those faced with mental illness in an urban environment. Until I moved to Hypothetical Agency and enrolled in some training programs, I discovered some sense of how insulated I have been in my work. I started to recognize that I held biases in regard to a person’s class considering the standards of my home state, the mid-sized working-class city in which I was raised. The context in which I was raised had greatly influenced my work attending to clients according to their class. Thus, social and environmental factors such as living in a two-parent or single-parent household, living in an urban or rural environment, the number of siblings one has, schooling in public or private, among others, contribute to personal biases. They influence the way individuals reason, which can affect how a social worker responds to patient information or the interventions and treatments they recommend.
Identifying and understanding our personal biases in the human service profession and other professions is an essential step to delivering good quality services to our clients. Our duty as a profession is to start embracing and practicing bias tests, which will help us comprehend where our biases may lie. The bias tests are significant because the profession requires a way to help diagnose the biases they don’t know to have. Individuals may never understand they have biases until they are told. This is critical to ensure individuals are aware of their personal impacting on the capacity to control and avoid biases inducing negative influences. Thus, through identifying personal bias, you can take steps to help alleviate your biases.
A bias test can help promote diversity and inclusion in your workplace. One of the essential advantages of bias testing is that it challenges individuals to see things from a different perspective. If we don’t understand our personal bias, like the unconscious bias, it won’t be easy to work effectively with diverse clients in the Human Services Agency. According to Marcelin et al. (2019), unconscious bias are underlying attitudes that reflexively change our perceptions affecting our behavior, interactions, and decision-making. Some of the unconscious biases that individual faces at the workplace include racial bias, gender bias, sexual and gender minority bias, and disability bias (Marcelin et al., 2019).
Furthermore, after identifying personal bias, it is vital to practice self-reflection and continue training to help yourself overcome the challenges. Self-reflection is about having careful thoughts in your work as you interact with clients. The most beneficial reflection entails the conscious consideration and analysis of beliefs and actions for the purpose of learning. According to Stefano, Gino, Pisano, and Staats (2016), reflection provides the brain an opportunity to stop in the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, and contemplate several probable interpretations, and create meaning. Reflective practice at work will enable us to assess our thoughts and actions so that we can make informed decisions while indulging in our duties. Learning and development are vital to helping someone identified with unconscious bias at work. According to Marcelin et al. (2019), mitigating unconscious bias is a long-term goal that needs constant attention and repetition and general strategies that can positively influence all groups of people affected by bias. Unconscious bias, as persistent in individuals, affects their performance, adversely making it difficult to eliminate but mitigate. Thus, corporate learning programs must ensure continuous learning by going beyond teaching the concepts and regularly reminding people of unconscious bias, and equip them with skills and competencies that promote diversity goals. Through practicing self-reflection and learning, personal biases issues can be eliminated at the workplace and enable people to work efficiently adhering to the agency or firm’s code of conduct. As the paper has discussed, the agency’s main focus should be to reduce the predominant unconscious bias, which impacts considerably many professions at work.
Marcelin, R., J., Siraj, S., D., Victor, R., Kotadia, S., & Maldonado, A., Y. (2019). The Impact of Unconscious Bias in Healthcare: How to Recognize and Mitigate It, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 220(2): 62–73. Retrieved 18 November 2020, from https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiz214
Maynard, C. (2018). Personal Bias in Peer Review, Medical Care, 56(7): 643. Retrieved 18 November 2020, from https://doi.org/10.1097/MLR.0000000000000929
Stefano, G., Gino, F., Pisano, P., G., and Staats, R., B. (2016). Making Experience Count: The Role of Reflection in Individual Learning. Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Retrieved 18 November 2020, from file:///C:/Users/user/AppData/Local/Temp/SSRN-id2414478.pdf
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