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The Power of Implicit Bias Training: How It Helped Me Overcome Career Roadblocks & Corporate Bias

reflection on corporate bias
We have all heard of unconscious bias, but what is it exactly? Unconscious bias is a Social Science term defined as the “attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.” according to the Kirwan Institute.

I first learned about this unconscious bias and its impact on corporate bias with my employer through a globally led Diversity and Inclusion event, which invited Mahzarin Banaji, a Harvard Professor, to explain this concept.

While many people may think that implicit bias only affects individuals from marginalized groups or, in other words, people who look like me, I realized the truth is that everyone is susceptible to it. I realized I, too, had biases and blind spots. This revelation was powerful and had a profound impact on how I proceeded forward with my professional career.

The need for unconscious bias training to help corporate bias

biasism and the change needed in Corporate America

Unconscious bias training helps individuals become aware of their personal biases and how those biases can impact others, providing tools and strategies for overcoming them. This training resonated very strongly with me, and for years to come, I saw firsthand how this training softened my connections with my peers and leaders across the organization. It changed the narrative from a discussion of worker productivity to a more human tone of concern for others and their well-being.

When I learned that this information had been out and available to the public for over 25 years, longer than I have been in the workplace, I was very disappointed that it had taken so long for it to be presented to corporations like my employer at the time. How could training so profound not catch on like wildfire in Corporate America?

How unconscious bias training helped me with biasism

I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about unconscious bias training. I thought it would be one of those boondoggle exercises where you sit in a room and listen to someone talk about nebulous topics. I was proven oh so wrong, and pleasantly surprised to find that unconscious bias training is an easy concept to understand if you’re open to it and quite interactive.

breaking through corporate bias

The most eye-opening part of the training was when I realized how biased I actually was. Coming from a marginalized group, I never would’ve considered that I had biases. Still, I could clearly see how my biases impacted my decisions and actions personally and in my career.

Learning the importance of becoming aware of my own biases and how to question my assumptions, I opened up to building relationships with people from diverse backgrounds and considering options that I thought were off-limits. It was simple takeaways such as the phrase “check your blind spot” — that phrase single-handedly empowered me. It was a straightforward way to stop a conversation and check biases.

benefits of unconscious bias training and breaking through biasism

For the first time in my career (mind you, I had been working for 15 years in Corporate America prior to this training), I felt seen, heard, and confident to challenge decisions that I would’ve otherwise gone along with. It changed my work relationships so profoundly that it became natural for me to call out potential blind spots and for my colleagues to do the same without one ounce of defensive emotion— it became a part of our operating model and proved beneficial to building a high-performing team.

For me taking this training had a profound impact on my understanding of the human experience — I no longer was upset over the little things, was seen as more approachable, and overall felt less stressed at work. I felt more energized and eager to try new things at work, becoming even more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

My eyewitness account of the benefits of unconscious bias training and changing corporate bias

Most people are unaware of their own biases, which makes sense when we think about how often we make decisions based on emotions and not logic. There’s a saying, “when you know better, you do better,” by Maya Angelou, which could not be more accurate than what I saw after I applied learnings from unconscious bias training.
  1. Embracing Differences — I began to check my biases on everything, including personal decisions, teaching my family about this concept and making more decisions based on logic vs. emotion.

  2. More Collaborative Environment — I called out my own biases and blind spots in meetings to check them with my team, and in turn, I saw my team members model the same behavior.

  3. Increased Diversity within all dimensions — I saw a significant jump in diverse hires and candidate promotions, creating a very high-performing and profitable team within my organization.

  4. Improved Authenticity and Inclusion — It established more employee-led work communities to embrace all differences, creating an inclusive environment where team members could be authentic and open. Did you know there are 36 dimensions of diversity?

  5. Stopped Assumptions — I saw a decrease in my biasism and an increase in my willingness to seek reality vs. accept my perceived reality.

My takeaways from unconscious bias training

I could’ve never imagined the value I would’ve received, but this training proved to be an invaluable experience that changed my life for the better.

  • First, I learned that everyone has personal biases, even people who consider themselves open-minded.

  • Second, I learned the importance of becoming aware of my biases and how they can impact my decisions and actions.

  • Finally, I learned strategies for overcoming my biases, such as building more trusted and authentic relations.

I believe that everyone can benefit from unconscious bias training. If you have the opportunity check out a YouTube video by Mahzarin Banaji, take an implicit bias test, or get a chance to attend an unconscious bias training, I would encourage you to be open to it and lean in.

If you’d like to hear more about my career journey or other career topics, please check out our site, Yes Girl Career Coaching, or our bi-weekly Podcast.

About Yes Girl Career Coaching: Yes Girl Career Coaching is a platform dedicated to empowering women in corporate environments to own their career journey. Want to get free coaching and career tools, sign-up for a free coaching session on our website


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