What is unconscious bias?

Unconscious bias is a universal problem where people apply learned stereotypes. Unintentional and deeply engrained, it shows up in many forms during the hiring process and employee lifecycle: lack of diverse candidates, biased resume reviews and candidate interviews, and restricted access to career opportunities.

When employees perceive bias, they are:


More than twice as likely to have withheld ideas or solutions in the past six months at work.


Three times as likely to plan to leave their employers within the year.


Five times as likely to speak about their company in a negative manner on social media.


"Disrupt Bias, Drive Value: A New Path Toward Diverse, Engaged, and Fulfilled Talent," Center for Talent Innovation.

Address bias in common workplace tasks

Attract a more diverse candidate pool

Attract a more diverse candidate pool

Hire top talent regardless of background

Hire top talent regardless of background

Ensure career opportunities open to all

Ensure career opportunities are open to all

Develop talent with fair practices

Develop talent with fair practices

Attract a more diverse candidate pool


By focusing on a job seeker’s skills and preferences, you can avoid bias. IBM Watson Candidate Assistant recommends opportunities based on skills and preferences, regardless of background. This opens the talent pool to all qualified candidates, increasing the potential for enhanced diversity and reduced unconscious bias.

Hire top talent regardless of background


Personal subjectivity can allow bias to creep into job descriptions. IBM Watson Talent Frameworks identifies the complete skillset needed for any job and defines industry leading descriptions, including content like behavior statements, coaching tips, development statements and interview questions. This helps organizations remove personal subjectivity and reduce bias.

Using objective assessments can eliminate subjectivity from the selection process. IBM Talent Assessments help you make hiring decisions by measuring the skills and cultural fit required to be successful rather than relying solely on the resume review of recruiters or managers. Our I/O psychology team validates each assessment to ensure the tests do not introduce adverse impact.

IBM Watson Recruitment's Match Score provides ranking of applicants without additional bias. It uses the applicant’s skills and experience matched with the job description. More than that, its Adverse Impact Analysis tool can be used to detect disparities in selection for hiring so that actions can be taken to reduce or eliminate any bias.

Ensure career opportunities are open to all


Unconscious bias can restrict opportunities for development and promotion for some employee groups. IBM Watson Career Coach promotes learning for all employees. It is guided by the skills necessary for growth and provides unbiased career pathing and internal mobility recommendations.

Develop talent with fair practices


Managers can avoid unconscious bias with a more structured approach to performance conversations. IBM Watson Talent Frameworks provides coaching tips and behavior statements to help define success for specific roles. This eliminates vague or inconsistent reviews that may be at risk for unconscious bias.

IBM thinks about diversity the way we think about innovation - both are essential to the success of our business.

Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO, IBM

IBM Watson Candidate Assistant

Focus on a job seeker’s skills and preferences and avoid biases in recommending jobs.

IBM Watson Talent Frameworks

Eliminate vague or inconsistent job descriptions and performance reviews that may be at risk of unconscious bias.

IBM Talent Assessments

Minimize subjectivity. Use proven behavioral and skills assessments to predict performance.

IBM Watson Recruitment

Increase recruiter efficiency and candidate quality. Identify adverse impact and address bias.

IBM Watson Career Coach

Avoid unconscious bias in employee career pathing and internal mobility.

The role of AI in mitigating bias to enhance diversity and inclusion

AI solutions have the potential to mitigate biases and, as a result, enable more
diverse and inclusive workplaces. This report provides insights into the role that
AI can play in mitigating biases.