Systemic bias is the inherent tendency of a process to favor particular outcomes. The term is a neologism that generally refers to human systems including institutions; the analogous problem in non-human systems (such as measurement instruments or mathematical models used to estimate physical quantities) is often called systematic bias, and leads to systematic error in measurements or estimates.
Bias in human institutions 
Because cognitive bias is inherent in the experiences, loyalties, and relationships of people in their daily lives, it cannot be eliminated by education or training, but awareness of biases can be enhanced, allowing for the adoption of compensating correction mechanisms. For example, the theory behind affirmative action in the United States is precisely to counter biases in matters of gender, race, and ethnicity, by opening up institutional participation to people with a wider range of backgrounds, and hence presumably a wider range of points of view. In India the system of scheduled castes and tribes was intended to address systemic bias within the caste system. Similar to affirmative action, it mandates the hiring of persons within certain designated groups. However, in both instances (as well as numerous others), many people claim that a reverse systemic bias now exists.
Financial Week reported May 5, 2008 (emphasis added):
But we travel in a world with a systemic bias to optimism that typically chooses to avoid the topic of the impending bursting of investment bubbles. Collectively, this is done for career or business reasons. As discussed many times in the investment business, pessimism or realism in the face of probable trouble is just plain bad for business and bad for careers. What I am only slowly realizing, though, is how similar the career risk appears to be for the Fed. It doesn't want to move against bubbles because Congress and business do not like it and show their dislike in unmistakable terms. Even Federal reserve chairmen get bullied and have their faces slapped if they stick to their guns, which will, not surprisingly, be rare since everyone values his career or does not want to be replaced à la Mr. Volcker. So, be as optimistic as possible, be nice to everyone, bail everyone out and hope for the best. If all goes well, after all, you will have a lot of grateful bailees who will happily hire you for $300,000 a pop.
Systemic versus systematic bias 
There is some contention over the choice of the word systemic as opposed to systematic.
"Systemic bias" and the older, more common expression "systematic bias" are often used to refer to the same thing; some users seek to draw a distinction between them, suggesting that systemic bias is most frequently associated with human systems, and related to favoritism.
In engineering and computational mechanics, the word bias is sometimes used as a synonym of systematic error. In this case, the bias is referred to the result of a measurement or computation, rather than to the measurement instrument or computational method.
Some authors try to draw a distinction between systemic and systematic corresponding to that between unplanned and planned, or to that between arising from the characteristics of a system and from an individual flaw. In a less formal sense, systemic biases are sometimes said to arise from the nature of the interworkings of the system, whereas systematic biases stem from a concerted effort to favor certain outcomes. Consider the difference between affirmative action (systematic) compared to racism and caste (systemic).
See also 
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- Jaroff, Leon et al. (April 4, 1994) "Teaching Reverse Racism", Time Magazine
- "Paging Paul Volcker. The former Fed chairman was tougher and less eager to please than his successor, Alan Greenspan", Jeremy Grantham, Financial Week, 5 May 2008
- John Robert Taylor (1999). An Introduction to Error Analysis: The Study of Uncertainties in Physical Measurements. University Science Books. p. 94, §4.1. ISBN 0-935702-75-X.
Further reading 
- "Commerce Dept. Accused Of Systemic Bias". By John Files. October 6, 2005. New York Times.
- "Clinton Postpones Inmate's Execution. Systemic Bias To Be Studied". By Deb Riechmann, Associated Press. December 8, 2000. Miami Herald.