Brandon Garrick wrote several guest blogs while he was earning his Masters Degree in Social Work at NC State University. Brandon has thus far focused his social work with the often underserved prison population, and is now pursuing his Doctorate in Social Work at the University of Kentucky.
You can search for Brandon’s past blogs on this page (Search on Brandon) that covered topics such men’s health issues, the disproportionate African-American population in US prisons, suicide prevention and misconceptions of atheists.
Introduction: Implicit bias (also called unconscious bias) refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner (Blair,2002). These biases are important to acknowledge and challenge as they can promote disparities in various ecological systems.
For instance, implicit biases can negatively impact a provider’s inclination to engage in patient-centered care, provide referrals to specialized treatment, or even adhere to evidence-based guidelines when serving diverse populations (Hall et al., 2015).
The following reflection will discuss how I scored on the Implicit Attitude Test (IAT) on race and my reaction to it. I will discuss previous training that I have received on implicit biases. In addition, I will detail my thoughts and feelings about my biases and why it matters as a supervisor.
Discussion. When I was in graduate school, I had the opportunity to take a Professional Certification course on diversity, equity and inclusion due to my cousin being one of the presenters. The training was mainly for diversity and inclusion professionals and was held at Rutgers Business school by the National Diversity Council.
At this training, I learned about implicit biases and their negative influences on diversity and inclusion in hiring. The training discussed the benefits of having a diverse workforce, specifically regarding the diversity of thought in business.
There are multiple best practices to address and challenge implicit biases. One method an individual could take to address implicit biases is to continue researching and self-reflect. In social work, we often discuss the importance of self-reflection in supervision and practice. The first step in overcoming unconscious biases is to become aware of them, which I aim to do as I take the IAT on race.
The IAT is anonymous test that measures attitudes toward or beliefs about certain racial, ethnic, or religious groups. I selected the one on race due to my belief that I will do well on it.
My responses suggested a slight automatic preference for European Americans over African Americans. My results are accurate despite my questioning of the exercises involved in the test. I thought I would score in this range because there are areas to improve if I wanted to fall into the little to no automatic preference between African American and European categories.
Supervisor: I am content with my score and biases, but I worry that they can negatively influence me as a supervisor. In addition, this IAT on race only focused on race, and I am sure I have deeper biases towards other social groups. I know implicit biases could negatively influence me as a supervisor, and I must work towards overcoming them.
Continuing education and reflection will be vital in overcoming my implicit bias. Pursuing higher education (MSW, now DSW) has reduced my level of implicit bias.
Conclusion: After taking the IAT on race, I am more knowledgeable about my implicit biases toward African Americans. The website is a good source, and I plan to take additional ones to see where I stand regarding implicit biases toward others. My goal is to be an excellent supervisor that promotes social justice among my supervisees, and this goal holds the responsibility of overcoming and challenging implicit bias. In addition, as a social worker, I have the ethical responsibility to challenge oppressive policies and systems (NASW, 2021).
Blair I. V. (2002). The malleability of automatic stereotypes and prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 6, 242–261. 10.1207/S15327957PSPR0603_8
Hall WJ, Chapman MV, Lee KM (2015). Implicit racial/ethnic bias among health care professionals and its influence on health care outcomes: a systematic review. American Journal of Public Health 105: e60–e76, Crossref, Medline, Google Scholar
National Association of Social Workers (2021). Code of ethics. retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English.
Race IAT retrieved from https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html.