Towards Equity and Excellence: Unconscious Bias Training Begins

Towards Equity and Excellence: Unconscious Bias Training Begins

A representative from Google has been quoted as saying, “Unconscious bias is why we don’t have a diverse workplace.”

Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, also recently made an unconscious bias remark toward women at the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.  Needless to say, he and Microsoft felt the backlash.

So, then, what is ‘unconscious bias?’


Everyone has unconscious biases.  They come from our natural distinctions and preferences and result from our up-bringing, environment, and every day experiences.

Testing Your Own Unconscious Bias

Here is one vignette used to potentially help shed light on your own unconscious biases:

A boy and his father are involved in a car accident. The father is killed but the boy is taken to hospitaland into surgery. On seeing him, the surgeon says: "I can't operate on this boy because he's my son". Whatsex did you initially picture the surgeon as? If you thought the surgeon was male, you're probably in the majority.

One of the most effective tool available for testing your unconscious bias is the Implicit Association Test (IAT), created by Project Implicit, a consortium of researchers from Harvard University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Washington.

Research suggests several benefits of Unconscious Bias Training:

Unconscious Bias Training can help you accomplish the following:

1. Recognize that you have biases.
2. Identify what those biases are.
3. Dissect your biases.
4. Decide which of your biases you will address first.
5. Look for common interest groups
6. Get rid of your biases.
7. Be mindful of bias kick back.
8. Review the Cook Ross Unconscious Bias Workbook (sample)


Towards Excellence and Equity: HU ADVANCE-IT’s Unconscious Bias Training

20140923_1031591-1024x768Unconscious Bias in Higher Education

Unconscious biases may be the reason for incorrect judgements or unfair evaluations made on a daily basis.  In higher education, this means that unconscious biases could be the result of an unfair decision regarding a candidate for appointment, promotion, and/or tenure (APT) as well as for any position searches from Faculty to President.

HU ADVANCE-IT’s Unconscious Bias Training is one step towards mitigating the effects of unconscious bias.  So far, participant evaluations provide insight into how effective and impactful this training has been towards helping them identify, understand, and mitigate their unconscious (and maybe even conscious) biases.

  • Sixty seven percent of the participants in the training agreed that the information they learned about unconscious biases was information that they did not know prior to the training, while 33% were neutral.
  • Seventy five percent of the participants in the training agreed that attending the unconscious bias training was beneficial, while 20% were neutral and 5% strongly disagreed.

Have You Been Impacted by Unconscious Bias?

Have you ever been impacted by unconscious bias in any way – negative or positive?  Have you ever reacted or judged incorrectly based on your own unconscious bias?  What strategies would you suggest for mitigating unconscious bias?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.  It’s time we all participate in this dialogue.  Don’t you think?

Ready to schedule your training?

If you are interested in scheduling an Unconscious Bias Training for your Search and/or APT Committee at Howard University, please feel free to email with your request immediately.  Thanks!

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