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Your Unconscious Bias Trainings Keep Failing Because You’re Not Addressing Systemic Bias

It seems like every other day the headlines are marred with stories of companies adopting unconscious bias trainings to overcome issues of racism, prejudice, bias and discrimination. Unconscious bias trainings have become the cure-all for every diversity-related ailment that organizations are facing but why after all the money expended, inequities continue to persist in today’s workplaces? The focus of unconscious bias training is typically on helping individuals understand and recognize their own unconscious and intrinsic biases and suggesting behaviors to mitigate the preconceptions we are prone to. What unconscious bias trainings don’t account for are the systemic and structural issues (SSI) that allow biases to be perpetuated in the workplace. These are the unfair policies, the differences in opportunities and inequitable treatment that allow bias to persist. While it is equally as important for individuals to be aware of their own blind spots and stereotypes and how these impact behaviors and decision-making, unconscious bias training and diversity and inclusion workshops should also address these SSIs that are insidious and allow bias to manifest at a greater level. What are some of these SSIs and how can organizations deconstruct these oppressive systems to make for a more inclusive and equitable workplace?

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