World Trust

Addressing Unconscious Bias #1: Community Building

Posted by Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong on September 11, 2014


One of the strongest perpetuators of the system of racial inequity is unconscious bias. As diversity trainers and educators, it is crucial to find ways to interrupt this bias so as to pave the way for change.

Transformative learning asks adult learners to engage in critical reflection on their experiences and learned beliefs, for the purpose of deconstructing embedded assumptions about how the world works. 

At World Trust, we have found that transformative learning is the perfect pedagogy for addressing unconscious bias. In our latest series, we'll look at six elements that can be included in your diversity activities, harnessing the power of transformative learning to combat unconscious bias.

Community Building: Relationships are the pathway from fear to engagement.
Community building is a key tool in the diversity training arsenal. Recognizing common unity begins with the process of shared awareness and understanding: this solidarity can ready participants to engage in new learning.

For this reason, all of our training sessions begin and end with community building exercises. In the Racial Equity Learning module Framing Issues with a Racial Equity Lens, for example, participants dive deeply into an exploration of systemic bias in the media.

In preparation for this exploration, the module begins with a section called “Half Lies/Half Truths,” where participants hear a simple story about a troublemaking man who upsets his cousin with a story that is only ‘half true.’ Participants then reflect and share with one another an incident from their own lives in which an omission of information changed the meaning of a story.

The Takeaway
By sharing these stories one on one from their own perspective, participants are moving out of fear towards engagement. Anxiety around speaking one's truth drops away as relationships are built, forming a supportive environment for the learning that will follow. And as the group coalesces, we have already begun to interrupt - and expand - unconscious assumptions around what community looks like or can be.

Want to learn more about our Racial Equity Learning Modules? For more information, please click here. Curious about the rest of the tips in this series? Download them all for free below!

Download "Addressing Unconscious Bias" from World Trust