Lawyer, Author, Mindfulness Instructor
The first time I ever heard about implicit bias I was instantly intrigued. Finding that there was a test for it, I jumped at the opportunity to see my results. At the time I was still living in Portland, Oregon – a place that prides itself on being open minded and encouraging diversity – and I figured since I grew up there I would do fairly well on the test. I wasn’t wrong, but what was most revealing to me was that I also wasn't right. The test revealed that I did, in fact, have biases. I was until that moment completely unaware of it, and more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of something like this being hidden away from me in my head. The test makers reassured me that I was fairly normal in these characteristics, but that did little to assuage my Portland hipster ego.
So what is implicit bias? It’s important to acknowledge that implicit bias resides in an area of our brains that is largely outside our awareness or ability to control. It is an involuntary attitude or stereotype that acts on our decisions and understandings in unconscious, out of sight, way. We don’t even know they are there. Which is why, when the Harvard test revealed it to me those many years ago, I was a bit taken aback.
Since taking that test I’ve become much more curious, and conscious, of the ways implicit bias works and can be countered in our everyday lives. It is especially important to be aware of the impacts in recruiting, where an oversight of bias can lead to major gaps in hiring. Which is why I’m excited to hear from the upcoming plenary speaker for the 2020 WALRAA Educational Conference, Jeena Cho.
Jeena Cho, author of The Anxious Lawyer, will be speaking on Managing Implicit Bias Through Mindfulness at the opening lunch for the Conference, beginning at 12pm, March 10th, at the InterContinental at the Wharf. When it comes to managing bias, the more tools you can add to your toolbox, the better chance there is of creating change. Don’t miss Jeena’s talk and learn how mindfulness can help us create more room to maneuver around implicit bias.
Want to see how you fare on implicit bias? Click here to take the Harvard sponsored test, Project Implicit, that shattered my illusions those many years ago.