On Friday of last week, I attended MinnSPRA’s (Minnesota School Public Relations Association) Spring Conference, and the entire event centered around equity and diversity in school communications. There were a lot of leaders in the field of communications and equity in attendance. James C. Burroughs II presented a session on unconscious bias and its effect on the work environment.
Unconscious bias is a prejudice we have about something or someone, and we don’t even realize it. Our minds work so fast that we don’t even know we’re doing something prejudice; likely because it is consistent with social norms. Make no mistake about it, we all have unconscious biases, and becoming aware of them is critical. You can’t change what you’re not aware of.
If we are going to do the hard work of removing systemic inequities, we need to be continually checking ourselves by reflecting on the words we use and how we conduct ourselves in the workplace, because even the best of intentions can be detrimental to the overall goal of equity.
As far as what can be done to raise awareness in our organizations, we can offer training to increase employee understanding of unconscious bias and its different forms, and we can create structures at all layers of the organization to ensure we’ve minimized bias. Structures such as shared decision-making and interview questions free from bias can go a long way.
Google has some great training about unconscious bias that you can view here. The training video is over an hour long, and it is a great resource to offer employees.