Bringing Hidden Biases Into the Light

The Wall Street Journal:

Everyone has hidden biases. For Denise Russell Fleming, a vice president at BAE Systems Inc., they include overlooking quieter colleagues during meetings. “I may have not made the best decisions” because of inadequate input from introverts, she says, adding that she tends to favor more talkative personalities.

As they struggle to diversify their workforces, big businesses are teaching staffers to recognize that “unconscious bias”—or an implicit preference for certain groups—often influences important workplace decisions.

Unconscious-bias training arose from the Implied Association Test, a measure of hidden stereotypes invented in 1994 by Tony Greenwald, a University of Washington psychology professor. The online version has been taken more than 15 million times since its 1998 introduction, with most test takers showing a preference for white people, according to Brian Nosek, a co-developer.

Prof. Greenwald warns that unconscious-bias training often “is just window dressing” that fails to alter work practices. “You don’t go to a class and next week, everything changes,” adds Linda Hudson, chief executive of BAE, the U.S. arm of BAE Systems BAESY +1.21% PLC.

Read the whole story: The Wall Street Journal

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