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Exploring our hidden biases

In the first of a series, this article focuses on bias, part of Asante’ Equity, Diversity and Inclusion effort.

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We are excited to kick off 2021 and roll out a new equity, diversity and inclusion initiative to help educate our Asante team!

As part of Asante’s ongoing efforts to promote inclusiveness within our health system and our community, we plan to focus on a different term each month.  You can find more information about these terms by searching Asante’s organizational transformation business glossary.

January’s term is: BIAS.

Generally, bias is defined as: Prejudice; an inclination or preference, especially one that interferes with impartial judgment.

More specifically, there are two types of bias that we can display in our daily lives when interacting with others. It is important to understand both and the distinction between the two.

  • Conscious bias, also known as explicit bias, refers to the attitudes and beliefs we have about a person or group on a conscious level. Much of the time, these biases and their expression arise as the direct result of a perceived threat. When people feel threatened, they are more likely to draw group boundaries to distinguish themselves from others.
  • Unconscious bias, also known as implicit bias, may involve social stereotypes about certain groups of people that we form outside our own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

With explicit bias, we are aware of our prejudice and attitudes toward certain groups. Overt racism and racist comments are examples of this conscious bias.

Conversely, implicit bias can often be more difficult to discover or recognize. With unconscious or implicit bias, a person may be unaware that biases, rather than the facts of a situation, are driving their decision-making.  For example, when looking at the police force, implicit bias might lead police officers to automatically be suspicious of two young Hispanic males driving in a neighborhood where few Hispanics live.

Unconscious and implicit bias can also influence the care we deliver, creating unintentional health disparities when we make assumptions about a patient rather than validating their experience.

One of the most important things we can do to improve our own inclusivity is to try to learn what implicit biases we have. The next time we find ourselves thinking, “That group always does that thing,” really consider why you believe that stereotype. Usually we’ll find that our family, or community we were surrounded by growing up, instilled these biases in us. That doesn’t make us bad people — it makes us human. Being human also means we need to understand, recognize and discuss these unconscious and implicit biases, so we can reduce or control the likelihood that these biases will affect our behavior.

To learn more, download “Understanding Bias: A Resource Guide.”

EDI
WHAT IS EDI?

After civil unrest in the summer of 2020, it became apparent that America — and Asante — must do more to promote social justice and try to eliminate biases. The result was the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee.

The team of employees and leaders are working on:

  • Employee engagement (resource groups includes champions for populations often marginalized due to their race, ethnicity, ability, gender and sexual orientation or identity)
  • Patient engagement
  • Community outreach
  • Policy management
  • Employee and leadership development
  • Communications

The intent of the work not only is to embrace diversity at Asante, but to recognize our commonalities. If you are interested in the work of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, email us with your comments and suggestions.

Learn more »

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