What We Don’t Know May Hurt Us: Recognizing and Addressing Unconscious Bias in the Workplace
Dr. Susan Strauss is a national and international speaker, trainer, consultant and a recognized expert on workplace and school harassment and bullying. She conducts harassment and bullying investigations and functions as an expert witness in harassment and bullying lawsuits. Her clients are from business, education, healthcare, law, and government organizations from both the public and the private sector.
Dr. Strauss has conducted research, written over 30 books, book chapters, and journal articles on harassment, bullying, and related topics. She has been featured on 20/20, CBS Evening News and other television and radio programs as well as interviewed for newspaper and journal articles such as Harvard Education Newsletter, Lawyers Weekly and Times of London.
Susan is the recipient of the Excellence in Educational Equity Award from the Minnesota Department of Education for her work in sexual harassment in education. She has spoken about sexual harassment at international conferences in Botswana, Egypt, Thailand, and the U.S. She consulted with the Israeli Ministry of Education, as well as with educators from Israel, England, Australia, St. Maartin, Bali, and Canada. She traveled to Poland and conducted research on sex discrimination and sexual harassment in Polish workplaces with Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights. She has consulted with health professionals in Beirut regarding violence in healthcare. Susan has a doctorate in organizational leadership. She is a registered nurse, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and counseling, a master’s degree in community health, and the professional certificate in training and development. She has been involved in the harassment and bullying arena since 1985.
Implicit, or unconscious bias, exists in classrooms and on college campuses. What does it look like? How can faculty create an unbiased learning environment? How can faculty get in touch with their own unconscious biases to combat unintentional bias with students? Research suggests that unconscious bias regarding race and gender impacts relationships with professors. One study showed that certain academic fields of study were less likely to respond to applications from minority students. What are the best practices education should follow in minimizing unconscious bias?
We all experience some degree of unconscious bias—yes, even those of us that are well-intentioned. Unconscious bias includes the subtle associations we make towards groups of people. Stereotypes, which often operate unconsciously, are often at the root of our bias. The phenomenon has been used to partially explain the racial tension in the U. S. and particularly with the police shootings of Black men. The U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recognizes the important role unconscious bias plays in the life of attorneys and law enforcement. As a result, beginning this year, the DOJ will be rolling out training to more than 23,000 agents in the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies as well as 5,800 attorneys in 94 U. S. Attorney’s Offices around the country. State and local police and sheriff departments are also conducting unconscious bias training.
More and more organizations are incorporating unconscious bias training for employees recognizing the role it plays in workplace discrimination including hiring, promotion, retention, and talent management practices. Wall Street estimated that 20% of large corporations conduct unconscious bias training. It shapes the organizational climate. One of the challenges in addressing implicit bias is, based on the research; people are often resistant to accepting behavior that is inconsistent with their stereotypes while accepting behavior that is consistent with stereotypes. In spite of over 50 years of civil rights law, inequality continues based on sex, race, disability, and other protected classes, as it relates to levels of education, poverty, and success. Unconscious bias influences those inequalities. Courts have recognized the existence of unconscious discrimination since the earliest Title VII decisions and have specifically stated that Title VII reaches this form of discrimination.
- This program will provide answers to these important questions: Why do we have an unconscious bias? Is it good or bad?
- This program will reveal several common misconceptions, such as: That our conscious biases and unconscious biases are the same
Who Should Attend
- All Management including team leaders, supervisors, middle managers, directors, and senior leaders, administrators
- Human resources professionals including generalists and HR managers
- Risk Managers
- Senior leaders on campus
- Student leaders
Unconscious bias, or implicit bias, is built into our DNA—it is part of our human nature. It is automatic for humans to categorize individuals and groups to help us make sense of the world. Unconscious bias includes mental shortcuts to categorize people we are unfamiliar with into specific groups. Often those groups are labeled “good” or “bad”. The brain is hard-wired to create these groups and from an evolutionary standpoint, this hard-wiring helped us determine what was safe and what was meant danger. Once assigned to the group, we attribute stereotypes that we associate with that group. Unconscious bias, implicit bias, is different from conscious bias (explicit bias) that most of us associate with overt prejudice such as racism, sexism, and other forms of intolerance.