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As we navigate through this difficult time of a national pandemic and issues of social unrest, the Staff Council has adapted its focus to provide and share topical information related to current issues as it affects and relates to RWJMS employees and staff. 

Additionally, we will endeavor to provide virtual programs to help us stay connected through enjoyable and fun activities.

LET'S TALK ABOUT IT: Unconscious Bias, Implicit Bias and Microaggressions in the Workplace

With social unrest enveloping the country, leadership needs to do their part to stop and prevent bias in the workplace.  However, many leaders may be less than adept at recognizing bias on the job—and they may need to confront their own unconscious bias, which gets in the way of an equitable workplace culture. According to a recent study by Accenture, Getting to Equal 2020: The Hidden Value of Culture Makers, there is "a large gap between what leaders think is going on and what employees say is happening on the ground."

Unconscious and Implicit Bias

Unconscious bias occurs when someone who does not know you makes assumptions about your character, intelligence or capabilities based on how you look, speak or behave. This person does so not realizing that he or she is thinking or reacting this way.

"There are many signs of unconscious and conscious bias happening in the workplace, but particularly across society during this time of societal unrest," said Denise L. Caleb, executive vice president and chief transformation officer at Talent Plus Inc. in Denver. "The signs can be through exclusion, unfair practices, off-color jokes, stereotyping commentary, and just general unfair and unkind treatment of others."

Workplace experts say relying on employee complaints to combat bias, whether conscious or unconscious, is not enough.

"Being proactive and pre-emptively diagnosing areas of concern is where the focus should lie," said Janine Yancey, chief executive officer at Emtrain, a San Francisco-based workplace culture training firm. "One of the areas that is most readily identifiable is the 'us versus them' dynamic, which is often fueled by unconscious bias. Sometimes it plays out between management and employees, and other times it's between employees and [their] team members."

An us-versus-them scenario can present itself in subtle ways.

"From employees discussing where a person of color is from because they assume they're foreign born, to groups forming to belittle a co-worker for their ideals and values," Yancey said. "Instead of waiting for a complaint to come—which may never come—it's crucial that management engages with employees on a consistent basis, promotes dialogue and analyzes where any potential 'hot spots' reside." Once those practices are in place, then managers must work to rectify issues via an established unconscious-bias program.


Unconscious bias in the workplace often manifests itself through workplace microaggressions, which are indirect, subtle or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group.

"Microaggressions are silent killers of morale for team members who are victimized," said Natajia Miller, a diversity consultant and founder of Mind Fro Travel, a Bahamas-based consultancy focused on cultural awareness. "Microaggressions are basically verbal or nonverbal slights discriminating against someone."

The best way to root out microaggressions is with diversity and inclusion training sessions that provide examples of microaggressions and how management and employees can respond effectively, Miller said.

Have you ever experienced bias in the workplace?

Take a moment to review the short clip below
and share your experiences by clicking the link below: 


We will have a facilitated discussion in November to discuss. All names will be removed to protect the identity of those who share their stories.