It often happens to read about how the gender bias affects decision making processes. The gender discrimination due to the gender bias is often linked with recruiting processes or careers’ development (or succession) plans; regarding the recruiting process, we’ve read about cases when gender is used as one of the evaluation’s criteria to decide the most suitable candidate for a job (often at disadvantage of the female candidate).
In this post I won’t talk about the gender bias but something related to it, even stronger and more hidden than the gender bias itself. This is not to underrate the importance of addressing correctly the gender bias’ effects (so far from my intentions); but in this case, I’d like to invite you to think about something that is more generic but has a bigger impact on your decision making process. Specifically, I would like to talk about a trap in which decision makers can fall over even if they are not aware of it; then, as you’d read below, we can definitely say that this psychological trap can be also related to gender discrimination.
So, what is this strong mechanism that can be so decisive for our choices? It’d be controversial to think about it, but this bias is created when our decision making is based on the choice of someone who is similar to us; in other words, you are biased when you let the “she/he remembers myself ” mindset guiding your decision. Basically, you are selecting or preferring someone only because is like yourself!
In the organizational culture evaluation, we often talk about team fit. The team fit should not be confused with the choices based on similarity; specifically, the team fit concept is based on the evaluation of attributes, attitudes, approaches and values that are part of the team or of the organization that you belong to. For example, if one organization or a team lives on values like positivity, proactivity, team working and being supportive and you connect with a person that clearly has not got those, he/she is not going to be a good team fit. These values are team (so group) based, not a result of a single attribution. In other words, being a good team fit (also called organization fit) is not an evaluation based by individual’s values (as the similarity bias), but it implies considering a broader and a more complete view about what it is needed and what could contribute to team/organization success. So, the team fit it is not a 1:1 evaluation but a 1: 1+ evaluation. For example when a recruiter speaks with one Hiring Manager , he/she has always to ask which are the values of a team and which individual could be the right addition to a team, considering that values
So please do not consider similarity as the best way to solve your decision making dilemma (definitely it is a quicker and less painful , but awful). The similarity bias is a shortcut that can lead to group failure and also discrimination.