We all do it.
Every day we make routine assumptions about the people around us based on nothing other than our own unconscious bias.
Thats why so many of us routinely associate the colour pink with girls and the colour blue with boys.
Its also why very many people will automatically assume that the nurse they have an appointment with will be a woman, whilst the consultant will be a man. Its why we assume youngsters are better handling technology than older people and taller people make better leaders than those of a more diminutive stature.
Interestingly, we all assume that every other person we meet will be making judgments based on these unconscious factors, though we ourselves would never do so.
Unconscious bias is a very real factor in the workplace too.
If you are anything like me, Brexit will be the last thing you want to talk about.
More than three years have passed since the referendum, and theres been barely a day when our departure from the EU hasnt dominated the headlines.
And yet, in all that time, we seem to have made little definite progress.
Business has, almost universally, called for some form of clarity. Yet little has come.
Its an age-old dilemma in business. You want to recruit the best young people, but when you do - and spend a lot of money training them up - they leave without a second thought to progress their careers. And of course, all that time, effort and money spent on their development walks out of the door with them. If any of that sounds familiar you might want to consider using apprenticeships to help bridge your skills gap. They are still a popular way in to work, with 119,500 young people taking up apprenticeships in the first three quarters of 2017/18, a huge increase on the same period 12 months earlier.
Just when you think there cannot be anymore paperwork left to complete, along comes another change to pension contributions. Hopefully, you should already have made the necessary changes from the start of April. That was the date when employer contributions to workplace pensions rose to a minimum of three per cent. Making the increase should be straight forward enough but there are a number of things to bear in mind. For one thing, if you self-certify your workplace scheme you will have different minimum contribution increases, depending on how pensionable pay is calculated.
The latest gender pay gap figures didnt make for particularly pretty reading. It might have been hoped that this years figures filed by those companies with more than 250 employees would have shown the difference in pay for men and women narrowing. In fact, by some measures, the gap has actually got worse. For instance, the UKs national median gender pay gap for full-time workers in public and private sector organisations is now 9.6 per cent, compared to 9.2 per cent last year.
We all like to have fun at work. Lets be honest, we are there for long enough that anything we can do to raise a laugh and help pass the time must be a good thing, right? Well, up to a point. Because there is a point at which humour, banter and the like can cross a line and become harassment. And its a line all companies must know how to tread for both their own good and that of their staff.
It can be the most frustrating thing in the world.
You work your socks off, produce great results but somehow never seem to get the recognition you think you deserve from the boss.
Part of the reason could be unconscious bias.
And it could be just as much on your side as on your bosss.
Unconscious bias can influence all sorts of decisions in the workplace involving recruitment, promotion and performance management. And it can be discriminatory when the unconscious bias relates to a protected characteristic.
Did you enjoy the last bank holiday?
You should have done. The weather was glorious, the kids were still on holiday and it was the last chance to really soak up the best that the British summer can offer.
But do you know if you are legally entitled to time off work for a bank holiday?
It now looks highly unlikely that the Government will hit its target of creating 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. The National Audit Office admitted as much in its latest review of the scheme and added that the Government still had some way to go before it showed the scheme was value for money. Changes to the Apprenticeship Levy - the system which helps fund the scheme - have seen the number of start-ups fall in the last two years from 509,400 a year to 375,800, a fall of just over one quarter. So, do apprenticeships still represent a viable career choice for our youngsters - or are they more trouble than they are worth?
Notice anything different in your pay packet this month? The more keen-eyed of you should have seen an increase in your own contribution to your workplace pension. The new rate came in in April and means that employees must pay a minimum of five per cent under auto-enrolment rules. If you are really on the ball you will remember that the same contribution increased from one per cent to three per cent this time last year. In some respects, this is good news.
Heres a question for you. Would you be able to spot an example of modern slavery? It sounds like it should be simple. But figures from police forces across the UK suggest that cases are not being reported because members of the public are simply unaware of what they should be looking for. The latest figures released just last month show that reports of suspected modern slavery rose by more than a third in 2018, although campaigners described reported cases as only "the tip of the iceberg". In total, some 6,993 potential modern slavery cases were reported to the government's National Referral Mechanism (NRM) according to the National Crime Agency a far cry from the Governments own estimates that there between 10,000 and 13,000 modern slaves in the UK.