Journey into Change
An Unconscious Bias Workshop

The California Faculty Association’s Council for Affirmative Action (CAA) invites you to participate in a dynamic workshop entitled “A Journey into Change.”

The goal of this workshop is to help faculty and administrators become aware of unconscious biases, preferences, and micro-aggressions which interfere with the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty. This workshop was created with every CSU campus in mind, with a particular emphasis on hiring, evaluation and retention practices.

Our union is not alone in addressing these issues. The California Teachers Association (CTA), universities and medical schools, “Fortune 500” companies and many other organizations, both at home and abroad, have recognized the need to address the issues of unconscious bias and microaggressions.

Everyone has unconscious biases or preferences, which are hidden presumptions and prejudices that operate on the subconscious level. These unconscious biases can be related to race, gender, disability, religion, country of origin etc.; and these biases have an impact on how we respond to and interact with individuals we perceive as “different.” Overt behaviors that reflect prejudices and discrimination can result, but more often unconscious bias is reflected in the form of micro-aggression.

Microaggressions can be interpreted as small, nonphysical and sometimes nonverbal aggressive behaviors that are demeaning or insulting to others. In fact, the denial of one’s own biases can be considered an act of micro-aggression. Sue et al. (2007) describe micro-aggressions as, “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people.” (p.271)

In advance of the workshop, participants are asked to take a few online tests that were developed using academic research methods from Harvard University to uncover unconscious biases and preferences. The Implicit Associations Tests (IATs) are short, easy and even fun. Participants will have the opportunity to talk about their test results and how they might have been different than expected.

In the safety of the workshop environment, participants will be encouraged to engage in open and respectful dialogue, identify their unconscious biases, and challenge those biases. In this way participants will experience a transformative affect that will help them become more aware of (and change for the better) the way they behave in the workplace.

And finally, with a new awareness, workshop participants will talk about how we can transform the systems we work in by changing individual behavior so that these unconscious biases, preferences, and micro-aggressions no longer perpetuate a system where discrimination and inequities occur. The idea is to foster a CSU environment wherein we can recruit and retain a more diverse faculty workforce and decrease workplace toxicity. We envision impacting campus hiring/search and RTP committees, as well as department chairs and administrators.

This workshop is likely to be different than others you have attended. Most workshops focus on the content. However, the energy of this workshop is focused on the “user” of the content…You! All of the research about the unconscious is very clear: Knowing something and gathering information does not change our behavior by itself. In order for the brain to integrate we must develop new self-observational skills. That is what it will take for us to shift our diversity and inclusion efforts to have them be more effective; and, as people committed to doing that, that is what we have to do in order to move the CSU system in a better direction.

We look forward to your participation in the workshop and recommend and encourage you to read an article written about it by Council for Affirmative Action Chair Cecil Canton in the spring 2013 edition of the CFA California Faculty magazine.

If you have any questions or to schedule a workshop on your campus, please email: Audrena Redmond or Angela McIntosh

Cecil Canton,
CFA Associate Vice President Affirmative Action
Chair Council for Affirmative Action

Angela McIntosh,
CFA Board Member
Council for Affirmative Action

Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A. M. B., Nadal, K. L., Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62, 271-286.
For more information about the Implicit Associations Test (IAT), please watch a 6 minute video:–pcJRo.