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We already know that implicit bias harms quality of life for Latinos and other minorities.
Implicit bias is the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions unconsciously. This bias can affect relationships from the doctor’s office to the workplace.
The good news?
Many companies and organizations are making an effort to create change with implicit bias training! But what exactly does this training entail? Does it work?
What is Implicit Bias Training?
Implicit bias training, also called unconscious bias training, is gaining popularity in business world.
This training teaches employees to be aware of their ingrained biases as well as strategies for blunting the effects of those biases, reports The Washington Post.
“I think this is the most common diversity and inclusion training that’s used nowadays,” Michelle Duguid, a professor at Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business who has studied diversity issues, told The Washington Post.
Many training courses cover:
- Defining implicit/unconscious bias
- Strategies to combat implicit bias
- Emphasize simple changes
- Present relevant and realistic scenarios
- Research and statistics
According to The Training Associates (TTA), implicit bias training can help:
- Understand how and why implicit bias exists
- Identify one’s own implicit biases
- Have increased awareness on how to push their bias aside while making decisions
- Recognize the negative impact that bias has on an organization
Additionally, TTA states that implicit bias is needed in all organizations because it is increasingly beneficial if it is taught with the proper amount of content, length of time, and audience.
Effective training enhances awareness as well as promotes organizations and strategic growth.
What Are Some Examples of Implicit Bias Training?
In 2018, Starbucks closed more than 8,000 stores to train its employees on how to combat racial bias, according to an NPR report.
After the employees watched the training videos on racial anxiety and implicit bias, many employees shared their reactions.
“That made me just go ‘wow, that’s heavy.’ And that’s a lot to carry around,”Carrie Teeter, who manages a dozen Starbucks stores near Columbus Circle in Manhattan, told NPR.
“It first made me sad, and then it made me realize I’m not aware of that,” she continued. “And I don’t realize what impact that has on you, to constantly be feeling that way.”
Many police stations are now offering implicit bias training such as:
- The Huntsville, Alabama police department, has a goal is to make sure every officer in the department eliminates stereotypes in any situation or suspect they encounter.
- In Boulder County, Colorado, the district attorney’s office just received a grant to train police and other employees after an incident earlier this month in which several cops confronted a black student who was picking up trash in front of his own building.
“I would say implicit bias is on everyone, and I would include defense attorneys, judges, probation officers,” Jason Savela, a Boulder defense attorney, told the Boulder County News.
“Nobody wants to feel like they are racist, and people try to say, ‘I’m not biased.’ But that kind of ignores the whole idea of ‘implicit’ bias. I think it’s everywhere.”
In Santa Barbara, California, 433 school district employees have been trained to eliminate implicit bias.
“78 percent [of participants] said they learned ‘much’ or ‘very much’ from the training. Eighty-three percent were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ likely to recommend the training to others, and 89 percent found it applicable to their work.” states the Santa Barbara Independent.
Due to these results, the school board plans to continue the training.
Furthermore, Codington Elementary in Wilmington, North Carolina, has initiated implicit bias training after a controversial game used to teach slavery.
“An important part of their [students’] education and our training as teachers should be teach implicit bias and cultural competency and what they are and to make sure students have a more successful future,” Pastor Robert Campbell of New Beginning Christian Church, told WECT News.
Does Implicit Bias Training Work?
With implicit bias training being a popular topic of discussion in the workplace, schools, and beyond, it is important to ask the question: Does it really work?
Some say yes, and some say no.
For example, Starbucks’ implicit bias training has been criticized for only being one day.
“It is impossible to change long-term behaviors, stereotypes, and perceptions via one-day training” writes Janice Gassam in Forbes.
Yet, the “does it work, does it not work” argument is too reductive, according to an article on Medium by Michelle Kim.
“We don’t need to coddle companies for trying but we can encourage them to keep going,” Kim wrote. “We don’t need to give out cookies for what should be table stakes, but we also don’t need to drag them for not getting everything right the first time. We must be vigilant about calling out BS, and be willing to point people in the right direction if they’re willing to listen and change.”
We must critically think about the debate itself and not generalize implicit bias training as one specific course.
Joelle Emerson, founder and CEO at Paradigm a strategy firm that partners with companies to help them build stronger, more inclusive organizations, suggests three ways to make implicit bias testing better:
- Strike a careful balance between limiting defensiveness about unconscious bias, while communicating the importance of managing bias.
- Structure the content around workplace situations.
- Make it action oriented.
She also suggests that implicit bias training is useful, but only if it is thoughtfully designed. It must take into consideration research and limitations.
How Can You Get Implicit Bias Training?
The Kirwan Institute offers a free online implicit bias training. Check out their free implicit bias training tailored specifically for K-12 educators!
The Society of Human Resource Management has numerous implicit bias prevention resources.
Present these to your HR department and ask if it’s possible to implement training for the entire organization.
It’s important to remember implicit bias is not a one-size fits all approach, but must be long-term, and allow for critical thinking.