So no doubt you will have seen in the news that Starbucks came under attack for having two black men arrested who were simply sitting in Starbucks waiting for the arrival of a colleague – as many of us do. The only difference was they were arrested.
Other non-black members of the public were also waiting for friends at the same time of this incident and the police weren’t called on them. The moment was captured on film – take a quick look. It was The staff members bias that was programmed to believe that she should fear the black men and that they were there to cause a problem.
Starbucks response to this incident – was to close ALL of their stores in the US this week and make sure every one of their staff undertook subconscious bias training. Even one of my colleagues attended and said it was amazing. Rather than issuing a mandatory apology that we see so many brands do, Starbucks decided to take action and be part of the change to dismantling inequality. An EXCELLENT move.
So what is subconscious bias?
Subconscious bias are social stereotypes we hold about certain groups of people that individuals form outside of their own conscious awareness.
People often believe they don’t hold bias or prejudice, that ONLY ‘cruel’ people do. This is a myth. It is not about being a good or bad person. It is about self-awareness – if you are human you have bias.
But I’m a good person, I don’t hold prejudice!
We often believe only people who hold overt racist views contribute to racial inequality are because of ‘racist extremists’ when in fact they are a small minority. The biggest barrier to dismantling racism, class-ism and in-fact any sort of “ism” is not being aware of and confronting our own “ism”. There, I said it
What makes unconscious bias far more powerful and harmful than explicit prejudice is the fact that is it hidden and our behaviour and thoughts in certain scenarios are triggered automatically and unconsciously. It is lack of awareness of our biases, that can have a detrimental effect on behaviour enable societal stereotypes and contributes to collectives organisational beliefs that can lead to institutionalised racism.
It is worth noting, we are not immune to other people’s bias about us either – it affects how people perceive and engage with us and in turn don’t. The impact of not being aware of your subconscious bias is rife and it can have a detrimental effect on our personal and professional lives and the economy. Being aware of them helps to dismantle inequality and discrimination in your own community and in the workplace discrimination.
Does it work?
Does the training work? YES. One of the things I love about using my background as a therapist to teach about subconscious bias, is that it forces you to be self-aware. Being aware helps to dismantle inequality and discrimination in your own community and in the workplace. To raise self-awareness and start enabling equality. As I ALWAYS say, change starts from within – you have to be curious and brave enough to be honest with yourself and the biases you hold and be ready to undo years and years of programming.
Ready to see the benefit and feel brave enough to confront your own bias with me?