The people we are around and have relationships with greatly affect our implicit biases.

I took the implicit association test about transgender biases. My older sibling came out as trans a bit over a year ago and it was a major adjustment for my family to understand why he now wants to now go by he/him pronouns when he grew up as female conforming. I wanted to take the transgender IAT to test my biases. I wish I had taken it before I had a personal relationship with someone who identifies as trans to be able to compare it to now. The Ohio State article talked about how our “[implicit] associations are developed over the course of a lifetime” and through “exposure to direct and indirect messages.” But it also said that “implicit associations that we have formed can be gradually unlearned through a variety of debiasing techniques.” I think that wanting to have a better relationship with my older sibling has changed the way I think about transgender people and the test concluded that I don’t have an automatic preference between transgender and cisgender people.

As I look at entering into a career in business, I know that the work of unlearning biases will continue to be an important part of my professional development. Fundamentally I think that all people should be treated equally and I understand that there are systems in place to try and make that happen but they unfortunately too often are ineffective. I know I grew up in a very non-diverse area which has always made me feel more confident in my personal identity because most of the people I was around were like me in most ways. I didn’t personally select the people I was around. As I enter into the workforce though, I can take more responsibility for where I choose to apply to try and be around people who are different than me. Implicit biases make it challenging to trust the reliability of an ‘unbiased’ selection process because there has to be a decision that is made on factors that are both obvious and underlying.

Having plans in the workplace to avoid discrimination and increase diversity are so key and I think are easier to implement than a lot of people think. Even just having an awareness of your biases through resources like the Implicit Aptitude Test and wanting to decrease the impact of the implicit biases on your explicit behaviors can have a lasting positive impact on the workplace as a whole, and on individuals personal relationships.

The Kirkwin Institute (2012) Understanding Implicit Bias The Ohio State University

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