Managing Unconscious Bias
July 28, 2015 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Facebook's bias training: "There are different forms of unconscious bias that can prevent us from cultivating an inclusive and innovative workplace. In these videos, we discuss four common types of biases: Performance Bias, Performance Attribution Bias, Competence/Likeability Trade-off Bias, and Maternal Bias."
posted by roomthreeseventeen (24 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
They're missing out on another common type of bias, Age Bias.
posted by Rob Rockets at 9:18 AM on July 28, 2015 [15 favorites]


Previously (2005), and here's the really eye-opening Implicit Association Test.

The irony of this coming from Facebook (only 68% male! 4% Hispanic! 2% African-American! We're doing great!) is a bit much, though.
posted by Dashy at 9:35 AM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


The irony of this coming from Facebook (only 68% male! 4% Hispanic! 2% African-American! We're doing great!) is a bit much, though.

And notice how carefully curated the audiences appear to be in these videos. The very first audience shot (:11) of the very first video is:

* Three women and three men.
* Four (possibly five) of them appear to be persons of color.
* One has what appears to be a religious head scarf.

Token, much?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:42 AM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's true; it is deeply important that nobody try to better themselves or their organization.
posted by aramaic at 9:42 AM on July 28, 2015 [24 favorites]


The videos seem well-made and valid, and I wish we did far more unpacking of bias in our lives. Perhaps I am being uncharitable, but this (at least in a vacuum) feels more like corporate lawsuit-avoidance than it does a meaningful set of resources. I'd personally think that a proper treatment of biases in decision-making would be a little broader than this list, if only because it feels like "these are some lawsuits we keep getting hit with because we could be doing better in this space."
posted by Phyltre at 9:44 AM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Though, they should be careful not to break their arms patting themselves on the back.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:44 AM on July 28, 2015


Token, much?

That criticism could be leveled at any corporate training video.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:48 AM on July 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


Interesting. Six videos. Four featuring a guy. Mansplaining? Especially about Maternal Bias!
posted by njohnson23 at 9:58 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I assume the mansplaining is because the audience's preexisting bias acts in favor of trusting a man on these matters, right? A woman facilitating such a training would trigger all kinds of distracting thoughts about whether this was a self-serving exercise.
posted by town of cats at 10:02 AM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


My experience after 15 years in different corporate environments (first a company big only by Norwegian standards, now in a company that's owned by a large American corporation) that even though the basic idea of these kinds of videos is to CYA, the values they espouse slowly seep into daily work. They kind of move the Overton window, I guess.
posted by Harald74 at 10:05 AM on July 28, 2015 [13 favorites]


The videos seem well-made and valid, and I wish we did far more unpacking of bias in our lives. Perhaps I am being uncharitable, but this (at least in a vacuum) feels more like corporate lawsuit-avoidance than it does a meaningful set of resources.

What would distinguish the two? A corporation's entire raison d'etre is its relationship with the law.
posted by deathmaven at 10:07 AM on July 28, 2015


"feels more like corporate lawsuit-avoidance than it does a meaningful set of resources."

Perhaps some of the viewers will accidentally find these videos meaningful for unexpected reasons and some unintended good awareness will come out of it all?
posted by iamkimiam at 10:12 AM on July 28, 2015


Facebook are evil fuckers, but they deserve a lot of credit for doing these reasonably well (I've seen some terrible ones at old jobs), and sharing them publicly (and inviting loads of external criticism in the process).

It this is a sign that they're growing and maturing as a company, I'll welcome it.
posted by schmod at 10:12 AM on July 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


It this is a sign that they're growing and maturing as a company, I'll welcome it.
It's a sign that they're aware of the PR issues that many "brogrammer" web companies face and are trying to avoid them.

Whether they're maturing or not is anyone's guess.
posted by -1 at 10:21 AM on July 28, 2015


Once a company gets big enough, certain boxes are gonna get checked, somehow. Whether this means "we care about this" or "our lawyers told us we had to look like we give a crap", I do not know.
posted by theorique at 10:23 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


A company does this kind of thing because someone in leadership genuinely cares about these issues: Hurray for that person.

A company does this kind of thing because society expects them to care about these issues and will hold them accountable if they don't: Hurray for society.

The idea that Facebook is "only" doing this because they fear lawsuits is the more optimistic and idealistic interpretation.
posted by straight at 10:29 AM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


What would distinguish the two?

Human bias and heuristic decision-making isn't a comically short list of things that has gotten corporations sued in the past. It's a real field of study, because it informs every choice we make and every less-than-conscious preference we have. I don't think you could begin to properly approach "unconscious bias" as a topic while only addressing the subjects that page does.

For me, it's probably the juxtaposition of the title with the content that rankles. It screams self-service on the part of the company, almost parodically. It's as though they made a page entitled "Managing Your Health" and the four topics were:

1. Don't lift boxes more than 40lbs, but 40lbs is a good number.
2. The health insurance your company offers is really good, buy it.
3. Don't get stressed out by being late to work, get to work early and stay in control!
4. Smile more often, especially when talking to customers.
posted by Phyltre at 10:50 AM on July 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


The handbook on cognitive biases and some of their implications. No smarmy corporate training videos required.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 12:34 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks for watching everybody. Next week we'll take a look at algorithmic bias.
posted by tallthinone at 1:02 PM on July 28, 2015


They're missing out on another common type of bias, Age Bias.

Tell me about it. Just try and get hired there if you're over 40.
posted by w0mbat at 3:33 PM on July 28, 2015


Token, much?

A few words of defence from a corporate comms drone.

When I produce internal and external comms I always try for diversity, whether I'm mandated to or not (and I often am). This often results in collateral that doesn't reflect the demographic realities of our employee pool.

Is this tokenism? I say not, and I say so because :

1) my organisations have stated diversity goals, usually including targets. We're not there yet but are generally working hard to improve.

2) I genuinely believe in diversity and its benefits

3) Our more diverse employees are just as capable of presenting or filling a seat as our middle aged, white male employees.

4) demonstrating this through comms helps enforce the idea, and my orgs investment in it, and shows employees that you can be the face of our organisation regardless of your age, colour of skin, sexuality etc etc. We do not discriminate. It normalises diversity as business as usual.

5) the alternative is what we have had for the last forty some years, is not good.

I agree there is now to diversity than having a few swarthy faces in your videos, but maintain there is value in it even if that's all your doing.
posted by smoke at 7:26 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


More to diversity, not now.
posted by smoke at 7:33 PM on July 28, 2015


I know it is the word that people use for this, but it seems more like subconscious bias than being biased while sleeping or in a coma.
posted by snofoam at 10:09 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


These people probably like puppies too. I hate them so much.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:04 AM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


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