Doors, Inequities, and Implicit Bias

Last week Staci Barfield and I participated in a webinar from Nonprofit HR about race and diversity practices in nonprofits.

I am starting to realize that there are many inequities that I never see or think about because they don’t apply to me. I have many doors I can choose to walk through on any given day; therefore, I assume that those doors are open to everyone. False.

As the speaker pointed out, for many, not only is the door not open to them, it is possible that they do not know the door even exists. Hmmm. There must be doors that are also invisible to me. Interesting.

So how do we continue the learning journey? Understanding our own implicit biases is an important foundation in recognizing inequity. One tool I recommend is Project Implicit.

According to its website, Project Implicit is a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition – thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control. The goal of the organization is to educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a “virtual laboratory” for collecting data on the Internet.

Project Implicit offers implicit bias testing free, with immediate feedback, in categories that include age, gender, weight, sexuality, race, religion, skin tone, disability, and more. These tests are good tools for staff teams, boards, or search committees to help individuals acknowledge, in a non-threatening manner, attitudes and stereotypes that unconsciously affect their understanding, actions, and decisions.

Recognizing our implicit biases, alone, is not a solution to eliminating inequity. However, it is a great first step in defining areas each of us can explore and improve upon. Only by making all doors visible and open can we truly achieve equity.

Click here for more information on Nonprofit HR’s full REALITIES educational series.

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