5 Tips to Effectively Implement Racial Bias Training in the Workplace

Trying to find ways to navigate the social minefield that is racial bias training has many companies going on a full-on tailspin. There are plenty of solid arguments against bias training but the consensus is, it’s better to get ahead of the problem than to wait for a situation to occur. Contrary to popular belief, Starbucks is not the first company to implement racial bias training. Many companies have discreetly put its employees through mandatory racial bias training anticipating a potential problem. In the age of social media, there is no room for racism in the workplace or society for that matter, it reflects poorly on everyone all around. Here are a few tips about racial bias training that can save your company a public relation nightmare.

  1. Transparency is key. Be sure to communicate with your employees the purpose of the training. if your company hasn’t had an incident that warrants training, say that. If the only reason the company is doing training is to mirror Starbucks, then be sure to say that too.
  2. Structure the content around workplace situations. Remember to use examples that make sense in the work setting. Employees will respond better to familiar examples.
  3. Make it action oriented. It’s just as important to have your employees act out a situation and problem solve, as it is to have them listen and watch videos about the subject.
  4. Managing defensiveness. Often time when addressing racial bias issues, people feel attacked and subsequently get defensive. When an employee gets defensive, they stop listening and the learning process comes to an end. That’s why it’s paramount to communicate to your employees that they’re not on trial.
  5. Have a strategy in place. Have a plan that you can reference when a situation occurs. Have a strategy that includes consequence. Make sure your employees understand the companies’ policy on discrimination. Employees should know unequivocally that prejudices will not be tolerated by the company.

Our takeaway is that racial bias training can be a useful component of diversity and inclusion efforts, but only if it’s thoughtfully designed with research. Also, it will serve the company well to be aware of the training’s limitations. Ultimately it is a commitment to consistently evaluate your company and your employees. By applying these tips you can keep instances of racial bias at bay.