I was eagerly anticipating this week, the first week of the 2023 Racial Equity Challenge Series. This is the third year United Way of Delaware has offered the Challenge. Described as “a journey of self- discovery,” it is an initiative I enjoy participating in each year.
For five consecutive days in February, May, August and November, participants are sent a daily e-mail challenge — such as reading an article, listening to a podcast, or watching a video – and are then encouraged to reflect on that content and relate the situation to their own lives.
For me — someone whose daily focus involves working for a Delaware in which all people can achieve their aspirations free from prejudice — I find it interesting that I still learn from the Challenge every year.
This week’s Challenge emails addressed implicit bias in the workplace– those deep- seeded opinions and impressions that we all have as a result of our upbringing and life experiences that color our actions without our even knowing that it’s happening.
One can imagine how unconscious thought processes can affect hiring decisions. How many times have you heard a hiring manager say, “I don’t know why, but I just didn’t click with that person,” or, “I just had a gut feeling about him/her.” Those uneasy feelings could be implicit bias in action.
It also brings to mind that many managers consider whether the applicant “fits into the company culture.” Does that question result in employee homogeneity that could, in some cases, be a bad thing? Consider the comment expressed by a challenge participant last year:
“My team has to resolve problems on a regular basis. If everyone thinks alike then they all solve the problem in a similar way and if a problem is seen as difficult then it will be difficult for all team members. A team made up of people that think in different ways solves problems faster with more creative solutions.”
In my opinion, the Racial Equity Challenge Series lives up to its billing. For me, it’s an eye-opening experience that raises important questions and offers new insights for people of all races and ages.
Since the first year’s challenge in 2020, some 9,000 Delawareans have signed up to participate. I invite you to join us this year! You’re only one week’s emails behind, and you can catch up by accessing them on the Challenge website — https://deracialequitychallenge.org
Then, I’d love to hear your reactions – comments, questions, experiences and examples… whatever you find thought-provoking about that week’s emails. Let’s make this a shared experience from which we can open a conversation and express our opinions. Please send me an email with your reactions. I would love to hear from each of you personally. My email is email@example.com.
Michelle A. Taylor, Ed.D
President and CEO, United Way of Delaware