Guest Blog – Implicit Bias / Unconscious Bias: Impact as a Social Work Supervisor

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

Race IAT retrieved from

My 2022 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Trainings and Offerings

Doing what I love most on my 64th birthday – teaching a DiversityFIRST certification best practices session in Chicago (2019) prior to attending my 40th MBA class reunion.

This blog has lots of links to explore!

As we head into 2022, I thought it might be good to summarize in one of my blogs my growing portfolio of diversity consulting and training offerings.

Like the previous two years, I will continue to serve as the National Diversity Council’s Vice President of Training, where I facilitate several of their educational and certification offerings as well as serve as a consultant on staff; and I will also offer my services through my own consultancy, Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer.

Please contact me at any time to line me up to work with you in 2022, or with any questions about my National Diversity Council offerings.

My work with the National Diversity Council in 2022 will include:

• Continuing to serve on the faculty of the National Diversity Council’s intensive 5-day  DiversityFIRST™Certification Program, which prepares professionals to create and implement highly successful diversity and inclusion strategies. I will facilitate best practices in inclusive recruiting, diversity councils, employee resources groups and diversity awareness / training. The NDC plans to offer 14 virtual and 2 in-person sessions throughout 2022. You can view all the dates using this link and scrolling down.

• Facilitating our ERG Academy three times in 2022: February 15, May 17 and September 27. The sessions are ideal both for organizations that want to start ERGs and for those who have them and want to make them more effective. The target audience includes ERG leaders, HR teams supporting ERGs, ERG executive sponsors, and ERG members who want to help them grow. We also offer private ERG Academies if you want to engage all your leaders in your own customized session. Check out the ERG Academy page for information and to register using the schedule tab.

• Facilitating two of our half-day DiversityFIRST™ Virtual Suite offerings: “LGBTQ in the Workplace and Marketplace – Strategy and Execution” on May 11th, and “Inclusive Recruiting, the How and the Why” on August 17th. Link to the entire 2022 Suite description page … scroll down by date.

• In addition, continuing to consult with NDC clients on overall diversity strategy, customized DEI training, forming and growing employee resource groups, forming and training diversity councils, and more!

And my own Total Engagement Diversity Services include:

• Wholistic diversity consulting services including engaging your senior leadership, doing a diversity-focused employee survey, building a diversity strategy and DEI strategy and plan execution.

I frequently do workshops on the leading edge topic of gender identity and expression, and use of pronouns

• Customized DEI training that can be delivered in person or via zoom. Training and speaking topics include Introduction to DEI, Unconscious Bias, Diversity in Language and Communications, Inclusive Leadership and more.

• Leading-edge topics in the LGBTQ+ diversity realm including supporting gender transitioning employees in the workplace, supporting non-binary employees and use of pronouns.

• Customized training for your HR teams and managers around mitigating organizational unconscious bias and inclusive recruiting.

Please do get in touch … I look forward to enthusiastically working with you in 2022!