Canadian HR Reporter Weekly

April 25, 2018

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2 Canadian HR Reporter, a Thomson Reuters business 2018 CANADIAN HR REPORTER WEEKLY Starbucks faced protests in its stores and social media scorn recently after a viral video showed two men at one of its locations in Philadelphia being arrested. An employee had asked the two black men to leave, apparently because they did not make a purchase, and one had asked to use the bathroom. e men were actually waiting for a friend to go over a business transaction, but ended up at the police station for eight hours — with no charges laid. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson quickly responded, apologizing for the incident and promising a thorough investigation. He also announced 8,000 Starbucks outlets, with 175,000 employees, would close May 29 for "racial bias training" to "address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination." e training will also become part of the company's onboarding process for new recruits. While there are many proponents, particularly when it comes to training for implicit or unconscious bias, some critics are questioning its effectiveness. "e cheaper, more effective program would be to have on the cash register a little sticky note to say, 'Don't be racist,'" said Oren Amitay, a registered psychologist and instructor at Ryerson University in Toronto. "I don't try to minimize or deny that racism exists, I'm making fun of this concept that they're peddling, which we don't even know if it's true (or) it's effective." "I've seen zero evidence that it would actually work." Uncovering blind spots, biases True study of unconscious bias emerged in 1998 when researchers at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., introduced the implicit-association test (IAT) to measure implicit attitudes and beliefs people are either unwilling or unable to report. ese days, the test is widely used and can be taken online. Recently, consulting firm Accenture decided to roll out unconscious bias training for all employees in Canada, with both online and in-person elements. "It can take so many different forms and that's what, in my opinion, is so important about doing training on raising that awareness," said Nicholas Greschner, HR director at Accenture in Montreal. "ere's ways for us to make sure that (the biases) don't become something that can escalate to something that's not really positive." Unconscious bias are elements "that are not front-of- mind for us, that may provide some micro advantages or disadvantages towards certain groups of people, certain parts of the population," he said. "It's a blind spot, if you will, that as humans we may encounter, and it's something that we don't intend to do because it's in our unconscious." e training helps with inclusivity and diversity at the 4,000-employee company, said Greschner. And the type of training is important, as is the followup, he said, such as having an "accountability buddy" to call you out when you may have a blind spot. "It could be as simple as 'Have you checked the distribution list you're using?' when you're sending out emails because there could be micro inequity there or micro advantage or disadvantage. So little tips like this so we can make sure it's kept alive." Questionable results But when it comes to training around unconscious bias, that can be problematic, according to Amitay. "People can change, but they have to start from the conscious. So, if somebody is consciously a racist, for Can unconscious bias be fixed? Starbucks' plan to close 8,000 stores in the United States for 'racial bias training' has both proponents, detractors BY SARAH DOBSON Sign up for the Canadian HR Newswire today for free and enjoy great content from the publishers of Canadian HR Reporter. HR News at Your Fingertips THE LATEST NEWS THE BEST COMMENTARY DELIVERED WEEKLY FOR READING ON ANY DEVICE Visit canadian-hr-newswire

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