Understanding Implicit Bias and Microaggressions

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Evolution Communications Agency specializes in developing messages for audiences that are difficult to reach, so learning how to better understand and represent these populations is crucial.

In November 2018, our team engaged in a training called, “Raising the Bar for Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace,” led by Brandi Scott, the Associate Dean of The Center for Equity and Student Achievement at Metropolitan State University.

Over the course of two sessions, Brandi led our team through a variety of exercises designed to bring awareness to the implicit, usually unconscious, biases we all have, an understanding of how they originate, and strategies for speaking honestly about bias. For example, an early exercise got our team talking when Brandi asked us to list our six most influential mentors. After doing so, we categorized each of our six by gender, race, religion, income level, and education level.

Most of us were quite surprised by the homogenous characteristics of our mentors, as almost all of them had backgrounds very similar to our own. Even those of us with mentors of other races found that their income and education levels were not much different from ours. Understanding the nature of our most important relationships helped us understand our personal “lenses” and the biases we might not even realize we have.

The Evolution team also learned about the many variations of microaggressions, how to recognize them, and the messages they send. Did you know that asserting “color blindness” (i.e. “I don’t see race”) is a micro-aggression? It denies the significance of a person of color’s racial/ethnic experience and history. It is imperative that individuals who communicate for a living understand microaggressions and their implications.

Today, more than ever, our society values inclusion and diversity. By opening our minds and hearts to the lived experiences of people of color and those of other religions, income level, education level, gender and other backgrounds, we are able to communicate more effectively and more compassionately.

About Brandi Scott

Brandi Scott has worked in higher education for over a decade and currently works at Metropolitan State University of Denver as the Associate Dean of Equity and Student Achievement. In 2012, Brandi completed her Master’s in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University. Throughout her career, Brandi has served in positions, and is passionate about supporting institutions and organizations understanding of diversity and inclusion. In spring 2014, Brandi received the “Outstanding Woman of the Year” award from MSU Denver and in spring 2015 was recognized by the MSU Denver Access Center for her commitment to serving students with disabilities. Currently, Brandi is working on her PhD in Higher Education Leadership at Colorado State University and her research focus is understanding whiteness in higher education. Brandi enjoys family time with her wife and daughter and loves spending time in the Colorado outdoors.

Raising the Bar for Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace

This training helps organizations further their understanding of equity and inclusion and how these concepts relate to the workplace. This training helps build participants knowledge and awareness about our own internalized bias, microaggressions, and creating inclusive work communities to promote teamwork and productivity.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Participants in this training will learn that despite good intentions, we all have bias that must be considered and addressed.
  • Participants in this training will gain a deeper understanding about the subtle forms of microaggressions that impact underrepresented communities and how to respond when these occur in the workplace.
  • Participants in this training will gain tools for understanding how to engage in conversations with peers about diversity, identity, and microaggressions when future challenges and opportunities for growth arise.