News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – Since the violent murder of George Floyd and the growing worldwide movement of Black Lives Matter, there is an increasing outreach by organizations and companies, both locally and internationally, to work on improving their hiring practices, promotion and retention of Black people and efforts to be more diverse in their interactions with clients, customers and stakeholders.
Part of their efforts to improve and raise awareness have been to seek out diversity & inclusion or implicit bias training. Implicit bias refers to prejudicial attitudes towards and stereotypical beliefs about a particular social group, these prejudicial attitudes and stereotypical beliefs are activated spontaneously, and often result in discriminatory behaviours. Implicit bias training programs are growing exponentially but few have had rigorous evaluations; it is important that evidence-based trainings that have been empirically researched, are chosen rather than cookie cutter programs.
Diversity is about inclusion. Racial justice is about correcting past wrongs. While diversity is good, it does nothing about past wrongs. While these types of trainings are necessary, we must remember that in a majority Black country, still faced with legacy
inequities and suffering from intergenerational trauma, this kind of training must be equated to a university intro level 101 course. The hope being that if you can explain to people how nonconscious prejudices and stereotypes are automatically activated it might help people learn to recognize and correct this behaviour, and understand the catastrophic damage it does Black people and other people of colour.
D&I and implicit bias training is important to set the groundwork, but insufficient to create real, concrete and lasting change. It is only in the more advanced work, when one digs deeper into why these implicit biases, stereotypes and prejudice still exist and how this damaging form of bias has come to be, will any real change occur. It is only in understanding and addressing the fact that racism is not just an individual problem, but a structural and organizational problem, will organizations truly be able to affect change.
Without a doubt implicit/explicit bias and embedded structural racism are the most likely cause of racial disparities in the health system, chronic diseases, work environment, hiring practices, criminal justice system and educational outcomes, but without addressing the embedded institutional racism in an organization any changes made on an individual level can be negated.
Organizations need to do the hard and difficult work of overhauling their policies and procedures, looking at their processes and hiring practices, examining their cultural practices and evaluating outcomes.
What has been encouraging in the Bermuda context is that a number of organizations have contacted CURB to specifically seek out training and awareness about structural racism, its history, and how this manifests today. They are looking to understand the context and culture in which they work in order to better understand the disparities in outcome that are evidenced by our census results, and their own experiences of seeing young, Black men and women leave their organizations. These organizations are looking for meaningful progress at the structural and institutional level, and are ready to change the long-standing practices that are blocking opportunities and progress for Black people, understanding that it takes more than a workshop on diversity or implicit bias to bring about change.