Starbucks closed yesterday to train their employees to be aware that they are biased. That they have implicit bias. Implicit bias is having an unconscious preference. A preference for a particular race, gender, or sexual orientation. It means that we unconsciously prefer some people over other people. The theory is that this bias, or prejudice, can lead to racism. Starbucks wants to train its people to not respond to their implicit bias. Will they? Good question, hard answer.
Implicit bias is unconscious. It works outside of our awareness (therefore the term unconscious, or not-conscious). We feel its effects. It moves us to make decisions. But we don’t know that we are being moved by it. We all are triggered by unconscious biases. That’s right. Whites and Blacks are biased. (Was I just influenced by my unconscious bias when choosing to list white first?) Hispanics and Asians are biased. And Gays, Republicans, and Liberals are biased too. Everyone is biased to some degree. Why? Because we are human.
I can hear the words sounding off in your head: “not me,” “no way,” “I am a member of a minority, I can’t be biased,” “I am a liberal.” Ok. Calm down. Do you really want to know if you are biased? Are you open and brave enough to find out? If you are, take the following test developed in Harvard University.
The test is online. It’s free. And it’s very, very accurate. And, there is no way to cheat it. Why? Because it is designed to test your unconscious responses, not ask you for a self-report. Because when we give self-reports, we share what we aspire to be, what we see ourselves as being. In other words, we lie. Not in a bad way. We lie to ourselves to make ourselves feel better, and be motivated to be our best selves. However, in the process of doing that, we develop blind spots. Blind spots like how prejudiced we can be.
As long as we deny that we can be prejudiced, it’s easy to act on it, rationalize it, and deflect it by seeing it in everyone else.
Then, we go through the world seeing how biased/prejudiced everyone else is. But we don’t see our capacity to be prejudiced. And, that’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because we can’t work on something that we don’t know about ourselves. And admit about ourselves. As long as we deny that we can be prejudiced, it’s easy to act on it, rationalize it, and deflect it by seeing it in everyone else.
Here is the link to the test. Take it. And, if you are bothered by the result, remember that you are human. Remember that knowledge is power. And knowledge can free you.
If you feel moved let me know how the experience was.