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The Lens - May 20225/23/22, 3:17 PM The Lens - May 2022 https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/IAIOWA/bulletins/316f764 1/3 We only use cookies that are necessary for this site to function to provide you with the best experience. The controller of this site may choose to place supplementary cookies to support additional functionality such as support analytics, and has an obligation to disclose these cookies. Learn more in our Cookie Statement. The Lens - May 2022 City of Iowa City sent this bulletin at 05/23/2022 01:28 PM CDT Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page. May 2022 | The Lens, a newsletter to expand conversations on equity, justice, and human rights. Ways to Mitigate Unconscious Bias Unconscious bias happens when we form stereotypes or make assumptions about something or someone without realizing it because of our background, culture, or personal experiences. Humans tend to place people and things into familiar categories. Common examples can include assumptions based on gender bias, ageism, culture bias, and affinity bias, which all impact how we judge others. We all have unconscious bias whether we intend to or not. If it goes unrecognized, however, unconscious bias can lead to discrimination and poor decision-making. When someone is called out for their unconscious bias, they might feel uncomfortable or that they’re being labeled a “bad person,” even if they made a simple mistake. Yes, bias can truly be unconscious, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed, especially by organizations. Labeling discrimination as “unconscious” doesn’t mean it is inevitable and cannot be fixed, and it is never an excuse for not tackling it. Although many organizations try to combat unconscious bias with training, it is largely ineffective and “near-impossible to debias humans,” Joe Caccavale writes for Be Applied, “A study of 829 companies over 31 years showed that bias training had no positive effects in the average workplace.” Instead, Caccavale states that the best way to mitigate bias is to change the environment in which decisions are being made. For example, researchers held ‘blind’ orchestra auditions where bias-triggering information, like photos, names, addresses, and dates of birth, was removed. As a result, double the amount of women were selected. Hiring systems could similarly adopt more bias-free practices for better outcomes, rather than focusing on trying to change human nature with ineffective training. Do not use unconscious bias as an excuse for discrimination. If you are called out, resolve to do better as you would with any other mistakes you make. This involves reservation, reflection, and education. Stacey A. Gordon, a DEI Strategist and Executive Advisor, provides three steps to follow when recognizing and overcoming unconscious bias: 1. When you are called out for unconscious bias, reserve your judgment – both of yourself and the person who called you out. 2. Take the time to reflect on your own assumptions about others and how they might inform how you think, work, and connect with others. 3. Educating yourself about unconscious bias will help you better identify and correct it. Gordon also offers an unconscious bias course—LinkedIn’s most popular course in 2021. Visit the website to take the class. Please note that LinkedIn Learning can be accessed through an Iowa City Public Library membership at no cost. Sharing Stories to Build Inclusion To make real and lasting change, the focus of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) should shift away from metrics and towards a human-centric approach. DEI is not just about the numbers; and while implementing programs that track demographics rates, and statistics are beneficial, alone, they can Subscribe to updates from City of Iowa City Email Address e.g. name@exam Subscribe Share Bulletin 5/23/22, 3:17 PM The Lens - May 2022 https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/IAIOWA/bulletins/316f764 2/3 deemphasize the most important qualities of inclusion: awareness, connection, empathy, and mutual respect. Inclusion consultants Selena Rezvani and Stacey A. Gordon discuss the ways sharing stories helps build inclusion, specifically at professional organizations (Read their article for Harvard Business Review here.) “In our attempts to create more awake and aware environments, we’re forgetting that numbers typically don’t inspire us to change our behavior – people and stories do,” they state. When an organization implements approaches that encourage sharing experiences and listening to those of others, its employees feel more represented. Personal conversations that build connections are more likely to inspire positive change than mathematical systems. So, how can an organization begin implementing a story-based DEI approach? The Academy of Management published a study that found most newcomers at organizations prefer hearing stories from their peers rather than the CEO. However, without facilitation from organizational heads, employees aren’t given the opportunity to openly share their stories. If they do share, they tend to be passed over and disregarded, especially women and people of color. Rezvani and Gordon stepped into an organization and facilitated a session with its executive team and non-executive staff, presenting themes for discussion. Afterward, a member described it as “the most raw, honest dialogue they’d experienced in years, thanks to the unfiltered stories and voices of employees.” Representative, perspective-taking conversations are what truly drive change. A study found that “taking the perspective of others may have a lasting positive effect on diversity-related outcomes by increasing individuals’ internal motivation to respond without prejudice,” as shared in Rezvani and Gordon’s article. DEI is about the people, and their experiences should not be overlooked by abstract statistics. Sharing unique and personal backgrounds, despite the false narrative of being “unprofessional” in the workplace, fulfills everyone’s desire for authenticity and transparency with others. Facilitating shared experiences will help organizations that prioritize inclusion. Rezvani and Gordon share some ways for executives to encourage storytelling with team members: Do a round-robin question in a meeting Hold listening sessions Host book clubs that lead to discussions Schedule storytelling town halls Include stories in blogs, videos, celebrations, promotions, and onboarding Be transparent about surveys and focus groups that show negative perceptions and harmful treatment Have social forums and meetups Develop dynamic social media campaigns that share stories Human Rights Commission Holds Strategic Planning Sessions In early April 2022, conversations were held with five individuals who are involved with the Iowa City Human Rights Office and Commission. Topics for the conversation included the following: Each person’s path to working on human rights How well each thinks the commission is currently functioning What the commission does that has the biggest positive impact Areas the commission should consider working on Local human rights issues anticipated to be noteworthy in the next five years Who in the community the commission should seek input from via a survey What should and should not change in what the commission does Between April 18 and 29, 2022, a survey was distributed to City of Iowa City employees, City Council, Human Rights Commissioners, members of other City commissions, staff of Iowa City community organizations, and staff within the Iowa City Community School District, the University of Iowa, and Kirkwood Community College. There was nearly equal representation of the government sector, the nonprofit sector, and community members among respondents, with roughly 40% of respondents classifying themselves as one of these. (Note: respondents had the option to identify themselves in more than one category.) About 15 percent of the respondents were from the education sector. The two duties perceived to be fulfilled to the highest degree by the Human Rights Commission based on the responses are: making recommendations to City Council for further legislation concerning discrimination, and working with and supporting other agencies and organizations in the planning and conducting of programs designed to eliminate racial, religious, cultural, and other intergroup tensions. To follow up on the input from the interviews and surveys the Commission held two work sessions in mid-May to further evaluate themselves and their plan for the future. The Commission is redefining itself and its goals in preparation for its 60th Anniversary on August 20, 2023. A symposium will be held on September 15, 2023, in recognition of this historic milestone. The theme is “Defining Our 5/23/22, 3:17 PM The Lens - May 2022 https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/IAIOWA/bulletins/316f764 3/3 Future and Celebrating Our Legacy." Other Human Rights Commissions in Iowa that will also mark their 60th anniversary in 2023 are Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, and Dubuque. Stay Connected to Equity and Human Rights News Follow us on Instagram @ichumanrights Subscribe to the Office of Equity and Human Rights at icgov.org/subscribe. Thanks, and welcome! Questions? Contact Us STAY CONNECTED: SUBSCRIBER SERVICES: Manage Preferences | Unsubscribe | Help Powered by Privacy Policy | Cookie Statement | Help