Sunday, February 1, 2015

Implicit Bias: What it is, and What it impacts

I want to try something a bit different for this post: I want to introduce you all to the concept of Implicit Bias.

We all have biases. These biases could be over the food we eat or the clothes we like to wear. But when we deal with other people, most all of us, (including me,) have “blind-spots” or biases embedded in our psyches.

These are things that we were taught as children, ingested through television and movies, and are learned through the books and magazines we have read through the years. In ancient times this was the skill of how quickly a person could be “categorize” to see if they were “friend or foe.”

Implicit bias is something that we all can become aware of, and change: for this impacts the lives of millions of people of all ethnicities, genders and religions. Implicit bias impacts women in the work-place, students of all genders and races in the class room, it impacts how our legal systems function, and how law enforcement deals day-to-day with the general public.

Implicit bias leads to a lack of diversity in our work-forces, drives much of the gender-gap in leadership; both business and churches, and sadly is impressed on children in schools in all grades.

Implicit bias is the picture in your mind when you hear the word "CEO", "teacher," "doctor," "pastor," and "janitor." 

Quick self-check: What was the gender/ethnicity of the person you pictured for each of the jobs titles I wrote? 

I have faced bias and discrimination in my life, observed the problems of bias in business and classroom settings, and experienced displays of aggressive/passive aggressive behavior over my attaining a leadership role in a church. But our ability to learn and grow never stops in our lifetime, and perhaps with self-awareness and training these negative behaviors will slowly become a thing of the past.

So here is a little test, if you want to participate in a research testing site for Harvard go here:

And follow the link below to read a short informational PDF on some examples of the negative effects of implicit bias in the work place, here:

Implicit Bias is something that I have begun to educate myself on, and something that we all should learn: what are our blind spots? How are we all contributing to bias in the work-place and classroom?

As a Christian, I am called to build the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, and that includes reaching out to men and women, all races, tribes and traditions, not just the ones I feel comfortable with. 

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