Most of what the human brain processes is unconscious, and included in that under-the-surface work are implicit biases.
A bias is a “disproportionate weight in favor of or against an idea or thing, usually in a way that is closed-minded, prejudicial, or unfair.” Biases can be either conscious (explicit) or unconscious (implicit). It’s that second category that is harder to address, because how can you root out something that you’re not really aware of?
Workplaces have been doing implicit bias trainings for years in an effort to lessen their impact. As the video linked to below from Business Insider explains, these trainings are often flawed, in part because our understanding of implicit bias is still evolving.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that these trainings are a bad idea. As the video notes, sessions that focus on skill development and that are held over a longer period of time can be effective. In short, these kind of trainings aim to bring about real, substantive change and don’t just give lip service to the concept.
Chris Pardo, Plus’s VP of consulting services, wrote an interesting piece earlier this year that looked at how unconscious (implicit) bias is impacting global mobility programs. As mobility leaders focus more and more on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives within their programs, addressing implicit bias is critical. Without knowing it (hence, the “unconscious” part), mobility programs can be biased toward or against certain relocation candidates, depending on the particular policies and benefits that may be in place.
If you don’t have an implicit bias training program in place within your company or team, now would be a great time to start one. Just make sure you create a program that will have some staying power while focusing on building new skills and habits.
Implicit bias trainings are flawed, but does that mean we should stop doing them?