Schools, businesses, and even the federal government have placed a high value on unconscious bias training to ensure that the impact does not devastate the organizations ability to meet their goals. The verdict is in. Unconscious bias training does not work, and organizations will never recoup their investment.

Unconscious bias is a product of the biases that we hold. Bias is a prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another usually in a way that’s considered to be unfair. Biases may be held by an individual, group, or institution and can have negative or positive consequences. Consequently, unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing. The combination of these definitions has lead to unconscious bias training.

Unconscious bias training programs are designed to expose people to their unconscious biases, provide tools to adjust automatic patterns of thinking, and ultimately eliminate discriminatory behaviors. There are a wide variety of unconscious bias training programs, but the programs tend to follow a basic three-step method.

  1. Participants take a pretest to assess baseline implicit bias levels
  2. They complete the unconscious bias training task
  3. They take a posttest to re-evaluate bias levels after training. Frequently follow-up tests of unconscious bias are administered days, weeks, or months after the completion of training programs to examine the long-term benefits of these programs.

The major problem with unconscious bias training is that it does not help people to eliminate their defensive routines. Defensive routines are the automatically exhibited behaviors that result from the unwritten rules an individual learns and utilizes to effectively deal with circumstances that are upsetting, embarrassing, or threatening.

For example, when people feel threatened the first thing that comes to mind is to flee. Most people automatically flee at the slightest sign of danger or when they are out of their comfort zone resulting in avoidance behaviors. And when a person cannot avoid the danger, or someone persistently tries to harm or injure them, then they tend to react and fight them to defend themselves. The best way to help people confront there avoidance behaviors is a process that improves the relationship between the unconscious biased person and the persons who are treated unfair as a result of the unconscious bias.

There is only one model based on research that improves relationships between people which was originally developed by Margaret Wheatley and enhanced by Dr. Derrick L. Campbell. Dr. Campbell improves relationships through a process that promotes positive racial relationships. Dr. Campbell’s process provides an opportunity to eliminate unconscious bias without the adverse effects associated with defensive routines.

Positive relationships are in many ways the prerequisites for a better and more effective country and society. People who are warm and compassionate towards each other have the potential to improve their communities and the various components. Promoting positive racial relationships helps to eliminate the perception of racism that results from unconscious bias.

Promoting positive racial relationships empowers the unconscious biased person to transform their thinking without feeling upset, embarrassed, or threatened. The empowerment of unconsciously biased people results in increased satisfaction, raised expectations, and increased collaboration.

The unconscious bias person is provided an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process. Therefore, decreasing frustrations and increasing satisfaction with efforts to eliminate unconscious bias. Instead of blaming the person, the person is empowered which helps to raise the expectations that the transformation will need to be successful.  Finally, it will increase collaboration after the training efforts which helps the unconscious biased person not to shut down which results in efforts that will not eliminate the challenges associated with unconscious bias.

Related Articles

Papa John’s recovery plan now includes unconscious bias training

Should You Care About Your Unconscious Biases?

How Unconscious Bias Keeps Underrepresented Groups Out Of Leadership — And What To Do

 All the best,

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

Author of:

  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
  • The Raccelerate Formula App
  • Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
  • The Ultimate Guide to Classroom Racism Management

cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant classroom management cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant

“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
 ~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools

“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor

“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”

~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President

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