Is Unconscious Bias Training Required in Automotive?

bias training

Two men were arrested at a downtown Starbucks location in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 12. The two men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, were reportedly meeting a third party for a real estate transaction when the store manager placed a call to 911. Minutes later, police arrived on the scene. The two men refused to leave when asked, and police removed the two men in handcuffs.

Both Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson are black men. In subsequent interviews with news sources, Nelson and Robinson, along with their lawyer, are convinced that they were the subjects of racial bias. The manager that called police – a white man – has since been dismissed by Starbucks, but not before an uproar over the event.

CEO of Starbucks Kevin Johnson announced that over 8,000 company-owned stores would be closed for the afternoon on May 29th to train 170,000 employees on “how to prevent discrimination”.

More than Coffee Shops

It’s an alarming scenario that has been repeated time and again. Implicit biases, racial and otherwise, have created rifts between people groups in the nation. You’ve seen the formation of the #BlackLivesMatter movement to address racial bias and #MeToo for gender discrimination, harassment and assault.

Unconscious biases cause harm to individuals as well as industry, which you can see in the Starbucks revelation. Their CEO was swift to address the concern at its source – the unconscious bias that still seems to simmer in many people. And while the popular coffee chain is front and center, it can’t be ignored that the same implicit biases permeate every workplace.

Starbucks is Training for Discrimination – Should the Auto Industry?

A report dated January 2018 from the National Fair Housing Alliance finds discrimination in auto sales is rampant. According to the report, 62.5 percent of non-white car buyers paid a higher price and were given “more costly pricing options”. The report also noted that 75 percent of the time, white buyers received more financing options even though they were less qualified than the non-white buyers.

Clearly, an unconscious bias is active. Perhaps it’s across all industries, not only in an outlier like automotive. However, there’s an onus on dealers to provide equitable sales, financing options, and customer service to everyone. With a report detailing so clearly the discrimination non-white customers experience in the dealership, a level of training to combat unconscious bias makes good sense.

What Unconscious Bias Training Means

Essentially, unconscious or implicit bias training aims to expose biases people hold that are “automatic, unintentional, deeply engrained, universal, and able to influence behavior”*. It’s conduced in an effort to unseat the bias and change the individual’s behavior.

Unconscious bias training can involve several methods including counterstereotype, negation, perspective-taking, meditation, or a combination of them. What’s important is that exposing unintentional discrimination should be done in a non-confrontational, non-judgmental way to avoid further aggravating the bias.

How Do You Find the Right Training Program?

Cox Media Group president, Doug Franklin, is quoted on the PRISM International, Inc. website, speaking about the benefit of their Diversity and Inclusion training program. Facilitators such as PRISM International focus on talent management and personnel concerns.

You can search for an unconscious bias training program through talent management providers in your locality. Another option may be to engage with a university professor of psychology nearby. While they may not conduct sessions on their own, they may be able to point you to someone who does.