6 Steps to Combat Implicit Bias in Institutions

By Seema Rao, Principal Creator of Brilliant Idea Studio

Museum staff are in power to combat implicit bias in organizations. This work is imperative to maintain current audiences and grow new ones. But confronting bias can be scary and challenging. Here are some concrete steps to help museums start on the path to combat bias.


1.Don’t ignore bias

Bias will not go away just because you don’t see it. Talking about bias explicitly will help you and your colleagues bring to light blind spots in your work and processes.  These types of conversations should be ongoing, however, as bias can be minimized but never disappears.


2. Avoided making judgments when in heightened emotional states.

Happiness and joy are wonderful emotions, but the power of those emotions, as well as their polar opposites, can prevent you from making bias-tempered choices.


3.Communicate in ways that minimize ambiguity.

Try to communicate directly. Certainly, you might get some confrontation, but you will also create less confusion. This is certainly true in verbal communication, but it also translates to textual communication.

4. Be informed with appropriate language.

Understand what words mean in your specific circumstances. Think of this example. In your museum, do you have labels and placard? How do you feel when someone uses the wrong word? Now imagine that feeling magnified exponentially; that sort of estimates the feels that come from hearing yourself described with inappropriate terms.


5. Create feedback loops

No matter how consciously you might work, you are always within a certain ingroup. Make sure to build in ways in working processes to have feedback from different audiences. Pluralities of voice can make for a less biased final product.


6. Look for help

Just as you might have a hard time proofreading your own work (I do), you often can’t see bias problems in your own organizations. This is the ideal time to invite knowledgeable professionals to help you identity and address places for improvement.

First posted on Brilliant Idea Studio Blog

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