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Bias training expands across campus

Emory Report | Sept. 1, 2016

A program launched last year as part of an initiative to help faculty members minimize unconscious biases in recruiting, interviewing and hiring is expanding University-wide this fall, with training sessions now available to faculty, staff and administrators.

“It is essential as a University that we begin to understand our biases,” says Lynell Cadray, associate vice provost for the Office of Equity and Inclusion and University Title IX coordinator. “We all have biases. But because they are often subtle and deeply ingrained, we can’t always identify them.”

Unconscious bias — also called implicit bias — refers to the tendency for decisions to be influenced by hidden thoughts and instinctive feelings we may not even be aware of, Cadray explains.

And research increasingly supports the finding that those unconscious preferences may play a significant role in the way we engage, categorize and evaluate people, she adds.

It’s important to understand unconscious biases that may exist around hiring practices because “people can unconsciously have perceptions about others that keep them from doing their best work,” Cadray says.

Throughout the past academic year, the training program to provide this dialogue across campus proved so popular that the decision was made to train a diverse group of University facilitators to provide unconscious bias training with any interested schools, units, groups and divisions, she says.

An external specialist in unconscious bias trained Emory faculty members representing a range of disciplines and departments from across campus, including health, social sciences and business.

During the last academic year, just over 300 Emory faculty members completed unconscious bias training — a curriculum that has also been presented to the Emory Board of Trustees and committees handling searches for Emory’s new president and the dean of Oxford College, as well as “a majority of our senior leadership,” Cadray says.

Today, a corps of 14 faculty facilitators and three administrative facilitators is available to present unconscious bias training, which is now open to faculty, staff and administrators and recommended for all search and appointments committees.

Cadray says the training will also be offered outside of the University, with plans to work with area colleges and various corporate and community partners. “Emory can be a leader in Atlanta on these issues, and we should take that opportunity,” she says.

To learn more about unconscious bias training or to schedule a session with faculty facilitators, contact project director Lynn Magee.