In response to the latest murder of a Black man in police custody, more Americans than ever are examining their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors around race, with many becoming engaged in difficult dialogues and working toward racial equity for the first time. A survey by civiqs.com revealed that support for the Black Lives Matter movement had grown more in the weeks since George Floyd’s death than in the last two years.
Beyond explicit prejudice
For managers, while conscious racist beliefs are irrefutably wrong (and illegal) when hiring talent and leading teams, subconscious – implicit bias – is equally destructive. According to dictionary.com, implicit bias is defined as “bias that results from the tendency to process information based on unconscious associations and feelings, even when these are contrary to one’s conscious or declared beliefs.” That means that even when we believe ourselves to be non-racist, we may not even realize how deep-seated notions and emotions are affecting our judgments and decisions.For some managers, implicit bias may be a new concept to consider. While a manager may have been active in controlling and eliminating their explicit prejudices, they may still have work to do in identifying, exploring, and extricating latent bias to become better leaders.
Seek out implicit bias training
It’s natural to feel defensive or guilty about the acknowledgment of implicit bias. But as we move through life, everyone develops subconscious biases based on signals they receive via experiential, cultural, educational, societal inputs, and more. The key to unraveling them is accepting that we have them and acting on rooting them out. Fortunately, there are more resources available than ever to begin this important inner work. If your company does not offer inclusivity and anti-racism training for managers, here are just a few places that offer free (or very affordable) programs online to highlight and eliminate bias in the workplace: Kirwin Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity: Implicit Bias Module SeriesImplicit Bias Video Series from BruinX, the R&D unit within UCLA's Office of Equity, Diversity and InclusionUnconscious Bias: From Awareness to ActionMicrosoft e-Lesson: Unconscious BiasUnderstanding Unconscious Bias: Building Awareness to Leverage Diversity in the WorkplacereWork with Google: Unbiasing
There’s growth in discomfort
Talking about race, systematic racism, and social injustice is often uncomfortable for people. But that doesn’t mean that the conversations and solution exploration should be avoided. Avoidance has brought our nation to this moment. And as has often been stated from the frontlines of activism, this moment is a movement. Managers can use their leadership privilege for good. Change begins within each individual, who, in turn, can make changes within an organization, which, in turn, impacts greater societal systems.