Training helps employees spot and address their biases

Everyone is biased in certain ways, but trying to identify and address your bias isn't as instinctive. A training session available to faculty and staff provides tools for considering the effects of those blind spots and correcting them.

All employees are encouraged to take the 20-minute online training on managing bias, a program offered as part of the university's commitment to equity and inclusion.

"Those who have the heart to try to make a more welcoming campus need to know that it's not done just in an aspirational way. You have to be actively engaged in the work of managing your thoughts and your processes," said Margo Foreman, assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion and equal opportunity. 

The managing bias sessions filled a need among Iowa State's training programs, Foreman said.

"It gives folks the ability to find a comfort zone to say, 'I have bias,' as well as, 'How do I actually address it?' It's OK to admit that it's natural to have biases, but those biases can't and shouldn't impact individuals negatively in the workplace," she said.

"This is a really timely addition to our Learn@ISU catalog," said Kristi Darr, interim vice president for university human resources. "It's a short but very insightful and effective training that we think our community will really enjoy and benefit from."

The training was created by Everfi, the company behind other ISU training programs such as the Title IX training on discrimination and sexual misconduct for employees and AlcoholEDU for students. The new training opportunity for faculty and staff came as part of the response to activism last year by Students Against Racism. It's been available since early 2020 but is especially relevant now as widespread Black Lives Matter protests prompted by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have intensified the focus on anti-racism measures.

"Sometimes you have to capitalize on these things. If people are more aware and eager to find ways to improve their knowledge base, I'm happy that this is available for them to take advantage of," Foreman said.

The managing bias training is for employees, but a new student training program covering much of the same material is being developed, Foreman said. 

Go to Learn@ISU to access the training. Search the catalog for "managing bias." Completing the training is worth 25 Adventure2 points for those enrolled in the employee wellness program.