Blog FPO

Implicit Bias: What it is. Why it matters. What can be done about it.

There’s been a lot of conversation in the news and on social media lately about implicit bias, in particular its impact on the actions of police officers. But what are we really talking about when we talk about implicit bias and are there effective strategies to address it?

What it is:

The Kirwin Institute has done extensive research on understanding implicit bias. They maintain that implicit bias “Also known as implicit social cognition…refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.

The implicit associations we harbor in our subconscious cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, and appearance. These associations develop over the course of a lifetime beginning at a very early age through exposure to direct and indirect messages. In addition to early life experiences, the media and news programming are often-cited origins of implicit associations.”

Why it matters:

It’s important to identify bias so one can take an active role in dispelling social stereotypes, discrimination, and prejudice. Unchecked bias leads not only to mistreatment of individuals but policies and procedures that establish and reinforce oppressive systems. This free video series from UCLA – Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, walks you through the many facets of bias including; Real World Consequences and Explicit v. Implicit Bias.

What can be done about it:

When it comes to implicit bias, it’s important to note that trainings and education alone are not enough to interrupt behavior. In fact, with policing being the sixth leading cause of death for young black men it’s clear that much more than reform is necessary for systemic change. That said, voluntary trainings for those interested in interrupting their own biases can be a good tool for self-awareness and a first step on a much longer journey. There are also some methods beyond training that show promise and can produce shifts. However, it is important to note that leading researchers caution us that “…we should not be naïve about how easily we can change them." (Banaji) If you’re curious about where some of your own biases lie related to race, age, disability, religion, gender, weight, and sexual identity, check out this now popularized test from Harvard.

If you are interested in increasing your organization's awareness of implicit bias, please contact Krista Rowe at krista@eventgarde.com for trainings and tools on How Implicit Bias and Unearned Privilege Impact the Design and Implementation of Facilitation and Managing Implicit Bias in The Hiring Process. You may also contact Denise Evans, MM, MA at ConsultMeGR@gmail.com. Denise is a Certified Facilitator of Cultural Intelligence, Implicit Bias, Health Equity Social Justice and has been doing this work for decades!

Applying Our Understanding of Personal & Social Identities Within Associations

During the pandemic, I was introduced by my colleague to the University of Michigan Inclusive Campus Collaborative which seeks to foster a campus climate in which all community members feel respected, valued, and empowered to engage in the life of the university. Among the resources developed and shared by the Collaborative are two identity wheels, which I’ve found useful in helping association staff, volunteer leaders, and/or members better understand themselves, one another, and how they can improve their interpersonal relationships.

Read More >

A Practical Guide to Stakeholder Mapping & Why It’s Important

There are two primary groups of people involved in your organization’s strategy work: participants and stakeholders. Depending upon their lived experiences, tenure in your industry, engagement with your organization, and a host of other factors, the opinions, insights, and recommendations of your members are going to vary greatly. Want to test it out? Ask a group of 10 members how to solve just about anything and you’re likely to get several dozen suggestions. And that’s because how people see the world, including the blocks and barriers impeding our organizations from achieving their preferred visions, varies.

Read More >

Navigating Difficult Conversations Using Nonviolent Communication

During a recent strategic planning session, participants were working in small groups when Aaron overheard a participant make a comment that didn't sit well with their colleague.  Aaron and his co-facilitator brainstormed a course of action and turned to nonviolent communication.  This is how it went.

Read More >

8 Tips to Build Diverse and Inclusive Virtual Events

Building an inclusive, open, and diverse event is crucial in keeping your audience engaged. Here are some of the top and best practices you can follow to do just that!

Read More >

Your Website is (Likely) Non-Compliant

Is your website ADA compliant? Can someone get from your main event page all the way through the registration process without barriers? How do you know? Run your website - either your association, organization or event site through a free online accessibility tool. Then work to correct areas of non-compliance with your web developer or designer.

Read More >

Anti-Racism Resources

Our hope is that something we’ve shared this month has generated new ideas about ways to uphold the values of anti-racism, both in your personal and professional life. Being anti-racist is an ongoing commitment to do our own work and interrogate our complicity in (and perpetuation of) systemic racism. To that end we have curated a list of resources to assist in furthering that work.

Read More >